Monday, July 03, 2006
How To Save The Planet And Save Money At The Same Time
The method: Swapping out your regular incandescent light bulbs for low-energy CFL models that last longer and save money and resources in the long run. You don't even need to do it to all of your light fixtures. The UK's Independent reports that if every American household just changed the bulbs of their five most-heavily-used light fixtures from incandescent to low-energy bulbs, they would save $6 billion (£3.2 billion) and reduce greenhouse gases by nearly half a million tons. The deal is that 90% of the energy in an incandescent bulb goes towards making heat, not light. That's why electric lights have historically been such energy hogs, typically accounting for 15 percent of the electrical usage of a household. CFL lights put out the same amount of light and with far less heat, thus reducing summer cooling bills. So it's a win-win situation.
I moved into my home just over five years ago. At about that time, fluorescent replacements started showing up in hardware stores. From that point forward, all standard incandescent internal bulb burnouts in Chez Stormcrow were replaced by fluorescents.
Now, the floods in my kitchen are getting the same treatment.
The only fly in the ointment is torchieres. You try finding a fluorescent floor-standing torchiere. Just try. I dare ya.
GE came put with the "Profile" line a few years back. Now you can't find one in stores for love or money. There is a nontrivial design flaw: the ballast is specific to the product line and integral to the lamp. When the ballast goes, which can happen with hideous ease when line current spikes, it cannot be replaced. So the entire lamp is a goner.
Recently, I have seen (and purchased) a torchiere based on fluorescent replacements for standard screw-in incandescent bulbs. Nice one. With these, the ballast is integral to the bulb, not the fixture. So when it goes, all you need do is replace the bulb.
One nice thing, which may or may not be true outside of Washington State. Quite a few places, particularly drugstore chains, like Bartell's and Walgreen's, are selling "60 watt" fluorescent replacements for absurdly low dollar amounts, on the order of 25 cents per bulb or less.
I will do some more research and try some new bulbs that maybe aren't so ugly.
Also, the things have mercury and are a hazardous waste. You can't throw them in the trash. My local garbage hauler won't take batteries or flourescent lights, they tell you to look up the hazardous waste phone # in the phone book. SOBs.
Do I get climate change points for turning lights off a lot?
I note that while they don't yet have CLFs that will work with dimmers, they do have them for two-way lamps.
More blogs about politics.