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As Long as We Remember...

February 18, 2007

Saving On Electricity

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

Oh, beware! You people of Western Maryland, be so aware! The electric company and rate increases are spreading your way; and a major surprise in your power bill will shock you like a bolt of lightening. When the first envelope arrives after deregulation, your hair will stand on end in anticipation of the great fear that will jolt you past your normal senses.

From experiences here on the Shore, your bill will double. Regardless of what Allegheny Power says, no matter the weather, their Einsteinian formula will cause them to times two Mr. Magoo. That's two times trouble. Be prepared to babble, wobble, topple and hobble.

Although the demise of your bank account will force you to forgo any thoughts of a bauble for your loved one, here are some ideas to conserve electricity and it begins with the kids.

Yes, those lovely "fruit of the loins" characters running around the house that your wife takes care of only to bother you when they want money with the immortal phrase, handed down since the days of cavemen, "Ask your father!"

Here, papa dear, you can teach the young'un frugality that so far they have missed because daddy dearest has just thrown money at them so they would go away. Now you can stand tall, practicing the old Ben Franklin adage of "a penny saved is a penny earned." Although it probably doesn't apply in this case, the kids won't know the difference anyway.

Place all the kids on an allowance. Hopefully you already have them on one, but if not, start now. For those under 12, take the price of a movie ticket plus popcorn and add $2.

Then show the little tykes the electric bill before increase. That will be your base. When the bill comes in for the next month, deduct the percentage increase from the allowance after hollering all month for them to turn out the lights, take shorter showers and turn the heat down. After a month or two of this torture, you will be surprised how quickly the bill drops. When the bill declines below the baseline, you increase the allowance by the percentage saved.

They will quickly learn their percentage calculations to the hundredth or even thousandth place. But it does have drawbacks. They will yell at you to take shorter showers, turn your bedroom temperature to below 50 degrees and the rest of the house will be beneath toleration as the glass of water in the sink will have ice skims on top. The cat and dog will be you bedmates because your regular mate will have moved out. Court papers arrive citing cruel and unusual treatment.

The teenagers require more aggressive action. They will not listen to you at all, if they ever have, despite the exhortations. Give them a copy of the electric bill and tell them if the cost does not fall next month, radical action will be taken. Of course, they don't believe you.

Now, find the breaker box. It is the long black square thing, usually in the basement or hidden in the closet, that have those sliding black switches. Find out which ones work their bedroom and bathrooms.

When you hear they are winning a particular computer game switch the power off and then back on again. Better yet, unplug the charging cell phone as they sleep. Tell them the "electric man" did it.

After they finally figure out you are the one behind these actions, explain that you, as the electric man, will stop when the bill drops. Be strong and stalwart as they complain in some unintelligible game language about how they are losing the status in some kind of Dr. Spock community.

You must remind them occasionally by turning off the hot water after you have showered at the Health Spa. Turn it back on after they go to bed. I believe there are laws against this action and social services will come and take your kids. That will drop your electric bill.

Good luck!

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