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Lighting makes up nearly 10% of the energy costs in our homes. But how many of us actually flip off that switch when leaving the room? Probably not that many. It seems that leaving the lights on just isn’t that big of a deal, right? 

Wrong. It is, and the energy we’re wasting adds up over time.

We were reminded of this at the Energy Department thanks to one of our veteran analysts Tien Nguyen. Tien recently retired from our Fuel Cell Technologies Office after 30 years of federal service. Most of you have never heard of him, or of his countless contributions to high-profile reports, like the Quadrennial Technology Review, that have helped fuel a clean energy revolution. His work has influenced new technologies that have created jobs and saved Americans millions of dollars.

Over his career, Tien has also saved you money…and energy.

One Person Can Make a Difference

Every night before heading home, Tien strolled through three floors of the Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., in search of lights that were left on. Every light he saw on, he simply turned off.

Tien did this almost every work day for the last 16 years.

This simple task has made a big impact. During that time, Tien has saved an estimated 1,500 megawatt hours of electricity. That’s enough to power 150 U.S. homes for an entire year. In addition, he’s saved taxpayers $200,000 in energy costs.

When asked why Tien started doing this, he simply said, “We’re the Energy Department. We should practice what we preach. Plus, it’s good exercise.”

Still think turning the lights off isn’t a big deal?

Did you know?

One of the fastest ways to save energy is to upgrade to energy-efficient lighting.

LED bulbs are six to seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lights, cut energy use by more than 80%, and can last more than 25 times longer.

Find out how to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs and save money on your energy bills.