Great Electricity

Last night when we were about to turn the lights off, my roommate spoke to me from his bed. He told me that when he entered the room, the electricity meter was at 512 units. Now we’re at 2300 units or so. He looked at me and said, ‘Tejas, look how much we’ve consumed’. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate response was. It was true. We had consumed all those 1800 odd units of electricity. With 50 units allocated to us for each month, that comes up to 36 months – because we’ve never strayed beyond the allotted electricity limits. Not even when we had a standing fan, which stopped standing – and then collapsed by our fifth semester.

I haven’t noticed these things before. Usually someone comes around once a month to take our meter readings – and I look to ensure that he’s jotting down the right numbers, but apart from that, I haven’t cared too much. I check my emails when they send out the dues list to ensure I don’t have payments to make, but then it’s business as usual.

My roommate’s pretty much in charge of most of the electricity stuff in our room. He switches off the meter before heading to class – unless something is charging. It’s rare that it’s on the entire time. When it is, it’s usually because it’s summer and we’re out of the room for a few minutes, and switching off the fan would mean disaster, with hot wind all over the room. Most of my responsible electricity consumption is something I’ve picked up directly from him. That includes shutting down my laptop before I sleep, which is something I never did before: under some assumption that I would lose important files.

When he told me about the amount of electricity we had consumed, I realized that this was possibly the last time I would have to care so little about it. I’ve learned a lot of things on this campus – and being less wasteful with electricity is one of them. But I’ve not cared about the payment of electricity bills, or the source of my power generation. I’ll be out in the world in a couple of months – which is when I’ll definitely have to care. I’ll be responsible for electricity bill payments and keeping track of consumption to ensure I’m not going overboard.

I’m not too concerned about keeping track of consumption. Climate change has scared me sufficiently. What I am keen to learn though is the art of managing bills: one of those things almost every adult complains about at some point or the other.

I turned off the lights last evening and went to bed, only to be reminded of a modified version of Uncle Ben’s quote, which my roommate has crafted:

“With great power comes a great electricity bill.”


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