Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bright Idea

While everyone is wringing their hands over greenhouse gas emmissions and our dependence on foreign oil, I did something about it. ThisChristmas I gave several members of the family four packs of compactfluorescent (CF)light bulbs. Each CF bulb uses 75% less energy than acomparable incandescent (plain ordinary) light bulb.

We've been using CF bulbs at our house for over a dozen years.As they've become smaller, lighter in weight, and cheaper we've beenable to replace half of our light bulbs with CFs. They're in our porchand driveway lights, table lamps, kitchen lights, bedside lamp, desklamps, and bathroom. In fact, the only lights in our house that don'thave CF bulbs now are either on dimmers (which also save energy) or areused
so rarely that it doesn't make much difference.

If everyone did this, replaced half of their bulbs with CFbulbs, this country could cut its total lighting bill by 37%! Imaginethe implications of that. The energy savings would be enormous, aswould the reduction in greenhous gas emissions.

It is ridiculously easy to do. You go to the store, plunk down a few dollars on a couple of multi-packs, go home, screw them in, and you're done.

So why are so few of us doing it?
Beats me. I almost never see themin other people's homes. I was walking around downtown Carmel lastnight and noticed that almost every outdoor light was an old fashionedincandescent, barely different from the ones Thomas Edison first soldin Great Grandma's day. One notable exception was the Pine Inn, whichhad CFs. You'd think other cost-conscious businesses would have them,too. Yet several motels had incandescents outside every room. A 20 roommotel could save on average over 10 kilowatt hours per night. At 11cents per kilowatt hour that works out to a savings of over $400 peryear they could add to their housekeeping staff's Christmas bonusinstead of paying it to PG&E. They could save hundreds more if they used them inside the rooms, too.

So pay attention, readers!
Wedon't have to wait for the government to "do something" about globalwarming and energy supplies. We can easily do this ourselves right now!

As an experienced consumer of CF bulbs, let me offer a little guidance in buying them.First, buy multi-packs. They tend to be cheaper. Most CF bulbs thesedays are small enough to fit anywhere, but if in doubt, compare themside by side with a regular bulb in the store to make sure they're nottoo large for your lamps. Also, check the package to make sure they canbe used in enclosed fixtures if that is your intent. Some can, somecan't. Finally, most CF bulbs are designed to have a color similar to astandard light bulb, but there will be some differences that may takesome getting used to. Give it a little time. Avoid bulbs labeled as"daylight" as these will have a bluish color that is unnatural indoors.

Put compact fluorescent bulbs on your shopping list today!
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P.S.
Another great way to save energy is to turn off your computerwhen you don't need it. Can you believe some people actually leavetheirs on 24/7? Eleven years of computer ownership have proven to methat turning your computer on and off, contrary to popular opinion,doesn't shorten its life.

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