This paper addresses the topic of energy and development through a multi-disciplinary and systemic approach that combines environmental considerations with a social understanding of consumption. The focus is on electricity usage in the home and specifically lighting and cooling. Set in the urban mega-polis of Metro Manila, the Philippines, energy consumption is first placed in its biophysical perspective: the energy sources and electricity grid are presented, in relation to the Philippines as well as the region. The research findings then explore the social and cultural drivers behind household electricity consumption, revealing in several examples the strong influence of globalization--understood here as the flow of people, remittances, images and ideas. Policy recommendations are provided, based on the research results, with concluding remarks relevant to other similar contexts.