Here’s our first Greener Under Twenty tip: convert some of your lights over to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
CFLs can actually be somewhat costly, so if you have a great many bulbs, be selective. Chances are, you can identify four or five bulbs that are prime candidates for replacement and can do so for under $20 at your local home improvement store. Picking them up while shopping and replacing your incandescent bulbs should take you less than twenty minutes.
At a few dollars each, and only replacing a handful of bulbs, you can easily stay under $20. Also, attempt to find a deal or coupon you can use for maximum savings. Remember, these save you money over time.
Even though the incandescents might look a lot better right now at a dollar or two for maybe four bulbs, resist that temptation. Because they use so much less energy and need to be replaced less often (mine are going strong at two years old!), you save bundles over the lifetime of the bulbs.
So, which bulbs should you replace? The more a CFL is turned on and off, the more quickly it wears out (even more so than incandescent bulbs), so experts advise that you replace bulbs that will be on for at least fifteen minutes at a time. That recommendation goes against replacing your bathroom bulbs, but favors your desk lamp, living room, or outdoor lighting.
Why use a CFL? According to the Energy Star website, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”
Definitely, if a bulb is burned out, replace it with a compact fluorescent. Energy Star qualified CFLs last up to ten times longer than incandescents and use 75 percent less energy. Because less energy is converted into heat, than with incandescents, CFLs save energy during the hotter months, as you won’t have to run your air conditioner as much. Believe it or not, you don’t want that heat in the winter, either, because light bulbs are not efficient heaters (you have a heater for that!).
CFL Drawbacks: Some people report a less natural, white light from CFLs, but my experience has been that the modern models do not have the glare nor the off-color of the first CFLs produced. Compared to incandescents, they are almost indistinguishable in their light output.
Compact fluorescent bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, and most spent bulbs are not recycled, but rather dumped into landfills. While their use does result in less overall mercury being spewed into our air (and eventually our water and soil) by power plants, as CFLs gain in popularity, the result of hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions of them being dumped into our landfills would be a tragic ending to an effort to improve our society’s envirohuman impact.
There are some recycling options available, so be sure to check in your area. Also, you can lobby local and national political leaders to pass legislation mandating that such recycling options exist everywhere.
- Green Life Project: Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs [caption id="attachment_1066" align="alignleft" width="227" caption="Compact fluorescent light bulbs can save...
- Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Poison Chinese Workers? One of the most oft recommended ways to reduce your...
- Some Eco Fun Facts courtesy of our friends at The Home Depot Do you know the secret to consuming up to 75%...