Tip: Teach your Au Pair about Vampires

by cv harquail on October 31, 2008

Special Halloween Edition

vampire bill compton au pair aupair advice

Every Host Mom should teach her au pair about vampires. No, I don’t mean the Bill Compton kind of vampire, I mean the bill ELECTRIC kind of vampire.

[If you want to know more about Bill Compton, check these vids: "I’m Too Sexy…" (almost NSFW) or "Talking in Your Sleep." Apparently, these are more popular on YouTube than Colin Firth in P&P — Unimaginable!)

But I digress.

One of my pet peeves (not just with au pairs but also with my husband and kids) is them (never me. Never.) leaving lights, computers, stereos, air conditioners, fans, and other electric things on while no one is actively using them.

I hear myself sounding just like my own mom: "Who left the lights on in the playroom?" "Will someone please turn off the lights in the playroom?" "If I have to go down in that playroom one more time to turn off the lights I think I’ll scream (even louder)."

It is just pathetic.

Next week an electrician is coming to install some light fixtures, and he’s going to install some motion sensitive switches in the playroom so that I never have to yell about that particular problem again. [Soon, too, I’ll write the post: "Stop nagging and create mechanical systems to get what you want."] But I can’t put fancy switches on everything, so I still have to work hard to shape folks’ behavior around turnings things off.

Think about this:

Somewhere between 17-25 % of the electricity you use in your household is sucked away by vampires. Vampires are those rectangular black things on so many electric appliances that use a small amount of electricity to keep appliances in standby mode, or to recharge cordless things.

If you teach your au pair and your family about electric vampires, you might save a little money, a little bit of the environment, and a little bit of your own sanity.

Why do vampires matter?

In the spirit of energy efficiency, I quote and borrow from A. Seigel’s post at The Huffington Post , below. (Please go to his post for a fuller discussion and some great links.)

Vampire power … that little red light showing your TV as always ready for the remote control, even if you only watch it an hour a month. The cell phone or wireless phone charger burning up power even after the phone is fully charged (or even without the phone). The ‘sleeping’ computer. The xerox machine [air conditioner!!!!] left on through the four day weekend. The modem and wireless system. The nearly ubiquitous electronics of our lives.

Type of equipment  % of power used that is wasted by vampire

Cordless phone 66%
Televisions 25%
VCRs 30%
DVD players Up to 75%
Home audio equipment Up to 90%

bill compton w fangs au pair advice low cost childcare Take a bite out of Vampires! Action Steps:

— Talk about "energy efficiency" and not only "being green." Research shows that the words "energy efficiency" get more attention from individuals than words like "sustainability" and "being green", because the term is specific rather than vague. It tells you what to do: Be more energy efficient.

— Buy your au pair (and yourself) some smartstrips to make it easier to be energy efficient.

— Put all of your au pair’s major and minor electronic devices on power strips. Use one power strip per ‘concept’ ( i.e., use one powerstrip for the computer, monitor, & printer, so that the flick of ONE switch turns it all off).

— Teach your au pair to use the switch on the power strip to easily turn off everything at once: the dvd, the TV/stereo spend easily 80+% of the time with the power strip off, with no electricity wasted.

— Unplug any charger devices that are not actively charging something. Don’t keep that phone charger plugged in 24/7, when you only recharge your phone every 3 days.

— Ask your au pair to come up with a game for your kids to get everyone to remember to turn off lights.

— Be a good role model.

Happy Halloween!

{ 1 comment }

Anonymous November 4, 2008 at 12:35 am

My au pair has 2 sets of electrical outlets in her room. Recently my au pair blew a fuse, when I came into her room I noticed that every outlet had something plugged into it. She even had a few triplers in there. In fact one power strip had every outlet plugged in with some appliance (a lamp, a laptop, a phone charger, TV, space heater, hair dryer). She is possessive about her room and very sensitive about criticism, so how do I instruct her to take out plugs when they are not in use? How do I teach her that some appliances use more energy than others?

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