Why is there a light switch on this outlet?

“Adapter”.  It was written on my pre-departure packet and I remembered Professor Speakman telling us about it before we left.  My dad came into my room with a big bag, dumped it, and spread a bunch of plugs and cords on my bed. I looked at him in awe as he tried to click one piece into another.  I never thought about the difference in the little things like charging personal devices in other countries.

We arrived to Cloughjordan and quickly settled into the hostel.  I connected the adapter that my dad showed me to my charger and plugged it into the wall.  Nothing. My phone didn’t charge. “It must be the outlet”, I thought to myself. So, I plugged my phone into the outlet on the other side of the room.  Nothing. Why wasn’t this working? My dad showed me exactly how to connect the adapter. What was I doing wrong? Maybe my dad gave me an adapter that didn’t work.  So, I tried the two back-up adapters that he gave me. Nothing. It had to be the hostel outlets. I made my way downstairs to find someone to talk to. I encountered Pa, the owner of the hostel, in the kitchen and explained what had happened and he laughed.  He said, “Follow me.” He led me to the lobby area, knelt down, and pointed to the nearest outlet. “You plugged it in?”, he asked. “Yes, and nothing happened”. He nodded his head and replied, “you have to switch this on”, as he pressed a button that looked like a light switch.  He explained that by switching the outlet off when it’s not in use, it saves energy. I figured that this wasn’t going to happen for the rest of the trip because we were in the Eco Village in Cloughjordan. There wouldn’t be a stress on saving energy everywhere else. But, to my surprise, there was.  Most of the outlets have had these switches and I’m still getting used to turning them on. On our 9th day, in Inis Mor, I plugged my phone in and it didn’t charge. I was about to try another outlet until I remembered about the switch.

An outlet in Inis Oírr. The “on” and “off” switch are at the top.

As Americans, we aren’t conscious about saving energy while charging our devices.  People just leave their chargers plugged in even when their devices aren’t plugged in.  This is a huge waste of energy. During this trip, I have become a lot more aware of turning the outlets on and off and unplugging my adapter when I’m not using it.  

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