If your home life is anything like mine, you've barked this phrase a few times yourself. Why is it that no matter what time of day it is, or what room I enter, the lights always seem to be on? And it isn't just one or two lights in a couple of rooms, it's every light in the house. What a waste of energy!

Unfortunately, my threats of reduced allowance or additional chores seem to have little effect on my son. And as for my wife, I've never really been able to figure out how to make her listen to me.

A typical day finds me wandering from room to room, grumbling about the electric bill under my breath as I flip off every light switch I can find. But of course no one pays attention to me. This is so much a part of my daily routine I bet I could still easily find every light switch in my house with a blindfold on.

The wasted lighting load at my house is only a part of the larger picture, though. Consider the sizable lighting loads and the potential for waste at every small business, strip mall, corporate building, and industrial plant across the country. Some reports state that lighting loads in some industries account for more than 60% of a facility's electric bill and 40% of the total energy bill.

What can we do about it? Well, the answer's pretty simple. Every one of us needs to introduce new lighting control technologies and energy-efficient lighting equipment into our homes and businesses — or at the very least be diligent about turning off lights. Why? First of all, it doesn't make sense to waste our nation's energy resources to light unoccupied spaces. More important, if we can reduce overall system load, we should be able to avoid widespread rolling blackouts like we're seeing in California — at least in the near future. But you're just one person. How can you help?

You can become an active participant in promoting these new technologies. Whether you're working in a plant or performing contract work for others, it's your responsibility to provide high-efficiency, high-quality fixtures and lighting controls on every new installation and retrofit project you're involved with.

So get out there and start promoting the use of occupancy sensors, end-of-life circuitry, rapid-start ballasts, pulse-start lamps, dimmers, and automatic control systems. And don't forget to turn those lights off whenever you can.