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Eco-Friendly Electricity Lighting Up the White House

The Story of Electricity in Pennsylvania Avenue: Past & Present

When the White House was built in 1792, electricity was found only in lightning. Thomas Edison did not invent the functioning lightbulb until 1879, and homes were not primarily lit by electricity until after 1925. The story of electricity at the White House marks the journey of innovation and evolution of energy in America. 

Electricity Arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

The White House received electricity for the first time in September of 1891 during Benjamin Harrison’s presidency. At the time, electricity was considered almost magical. President Harrison and his wife feared electrocution so much they never touched the light switches themselves, reserving turning on and off lights as a task for the White House staff. 

Since 1891, the White House received top-of-the-line maintenance and constant upgrades to its electrical systems. In 1926, President Coolidge saw the installation of the first electric fridge in the White House, and in 1933, air conditioning was installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The White House’s electric bill became a taxpayer prerogative during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency. President Johnson focused on conserving taxpayer money by turning lights off in the White House, so much so that he became known as “Lightbulb Johnson” during his presidency. 

Eco-Friendly Energy Arrives at Capitol Hill

solar energy

The 1960s saw the rise of flower children, the Beatles, and eco-friendly social movements. The world began to recognize that pollution was a serious problem, with the smog covered cities of New York and L.A. inspiring such environmentally focused books as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Edward Abbot’s Desert Solitaire. 

Post-Woodstock and the Environmental Crisis of the 1960s, Eco-Friendly energy became a prerogative of the White House and the American government. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter saw the installation of solar panels on the White House, used to heat water supplies for its staff. While President Carter’s solar panels were removed a few years later by Regan, Eco-Friendly changes were continually made at the White House over the years following Carter’s presidency.

The “Green" Energy Alterations at The White House

President Clinton and his administration are largely to thank for the Green Energy alterations made to the White House. The “Greening the White House” project led to the installation of eco-friendly windows, compact fluorescent lights, and a new HVAC system. Following Clinton’s project, President George W. Bush installed solar panels back into the White House and installed solar thermal systems to heat the spa and pool. By 2014, President Barrack Obama had solar panels installed on the main residence, and the iconic White House lantern, over 100 years old, now hosts LED lights.

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Making the White House a Green user of electricity is quite the task. The building is over a century old and requires much care and maintenance to keep in good shape. Still, the White House has become an example of how the past can adapt to the technology and views of the present. 

About Edison Electric, Inc.

Since 2007, Edison Electric, Inc. has provided the Twin Cities area with honesty and dependable electrical services. Their business is proud to be a word of mouth provider, working to help their neighbors, friends, and any folks their clients send their way. Homeowners can trust them to handle all their electrical projects with same-day service, up-front pricing, and a smile on their face. Call now for expert electrical services!