Oct
09
2006

Compact fluorescent lighting: Changing lightbulbs. photo by Art Oglesby
Compact fluorescent lighting: Changing lightbulbs. photo by Art Oglesby

Lets go on a diet.

I am going on an energy diet. Each year I hope to reduce the amount of energy I use. By recording the gallons of gas, the electricity, and the natural gas I pay for each year, I will measure my success.

What will you give up?

“The Energy Diet,” a story in Thursday’s Home & Garden section of the New York Times gave me this idea. Its author, Andrew Postman, asks, "What would you be willing — or not willing — to give up in order to lessen your household’s impact on the environment?" So far, 159 people have answered in their comments.

Tell us what you are doing.

Please use comments to tell me what you are doing to reduce your energy consumption. I will add the most commonly used ones to this list.

    Change incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs(CFLs)
    Dial down the thermostat in the winter.
    Dress warmer and exercise to warm up if needed.
    Reduce the number of times you run to the store, etc. (make a list and buy lots at a time)
No votes yet

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

Looks like Wal-Mart will be giving a boost to compact fluorescent bulb sales by trying to sell 100 million of them by 2008. While I rarely sing the praises of Wal-Mart this is an undeniable plus for energy savings.

This article brings up the good point that I rarely see mentioned anywhere else. These bulbs contain mercury and even though they last much longer, eventually do have to get thrown away. I hope that if compact fluorescents really do take off on a large scale we see some recycling programs pop up as well.

posted on Tue, 01/02/2007 - 1:09pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Thanks for the link Bryan. Having a thermometer showing progress towards the 100 milion bulb goal sounds like a good plan. If people see that others are doing it, they might join in. Of coarse it works the other way if the chart doesn't show much movement.
Rumers are that Wal-Mart has put out a request for proposals (RFP) to several large solar outfits. The TreeHugger site hints that Walmart might install 300 Megawatts of solar panels. Depends on the bids though. Being green is becoming fashionable.

posted on Tue, 01/02/2007 - 3:44pm
cashie's picture
cashie says:

i like walmart and i use floresent lightbulbs. good job walmart. now make recycling a reality!

posted on Sat, 03/24/2007 - 4:27pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Australia has decided to phase out the old style incandescent bulbs by 2010, by actually baning their sale in the country. Sounds like a great step to me. Let's hope that California follows up on it's potential ban, and then maybe Minnesota can join the club.

posted on Tue, 02/20/2007 - 10:05am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Australian columnist Tim Blair argues that the energy savings will be minimal – but hey, every little bit helps. Blogger Glen Reynolds has been trying out various brands of compact fluorescents in his house and makes some recommendations.

(For me, I've been very dissatisfied with compact fluorescents – they give weak light and burn out very quickly. Perhaps I've just been using the wrong brands?)

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 9:26am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Most fixtures in our house are fitted with compact fluorescent bulbs. Some of them do give weak light, and I can't figure out what the commonality is, but I agree: it's annoying. I haven't had any problems with them burning out quickly, though.

This article, from a magazine called Fast Company, says:

"In the early 1990s, you would step into a room in a business traveler's hotel, flip on the lights by the door and between the beds, turn on the desk lamp and the floor lamp, then stand in the gloom looking around and thinking, "There must be another switch somewhere that actually turns on the light." Every one of the bulbs flickering to life was a compact fluorescent--and five of them together didn't provide enough light to read the card listing the lineup of cable-TV channels.

For two decades, CFLs lacked precisely what we expect from lightbulbs: strong, unwavering light; quiet; not to mention shapes that actually fit in the places we use bulbs. Now every one of those problems has been conquered. The bulbs come on quickly; their light is bright, white, steady, and silent; and the old U-shaped tubes--they looked like bulbs from a World War II submarine--have mostly been replaced by the swirl. Since 1985, CFLs have changed as much as cell phones and portable music players.

One thing hasn't changed: the energy savings. Compact fluorescents emit the same light as classic incandescents but use 75% or 80% less electricity.

What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads."

It goes on:

"The single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States is power plants--half our electricity comes from coal plants. One bulb swapped out: enough electricity saved to turn off two entire power plants--or skip building the next two.

Just one swirl per home. The typical U.S. house has between 50 and 100 "sockets" (astonish yourself: Go count the bulbs in your house). So what if we all bought and installed two ice-cream-cone bulbs? Five? Fifteen?"

And on:

"Swirl bulbs don't just work, they pay for themselves. They use so little power compared with old reliable bulbs, a $3 swirl pays for itself in lower electric bills in about five months. Screw one in, turn it on, and it's not just lighting your living room, it's dropping quarters in your pocket. The advantages pile up in a way to almost make one giddy. Compact fluorescents, even in heavy use, last 5, 7, 10 years. Years. Install one on your 30th birthday; it may be around to help illuminate your 40th."

But the mercury in them is a problem, once the bulbs do finally die. And obviously they aren't ideal for every application. (Christmas lights? A chandelier?) Still, it makes sense to try and use them where you can.

According to the Department of Energy, appliances (including refrigerators and lights) consume 2/3 of all electricity used in US homes. Refrigerators use the most electricity--14% of total electricity use for all purposes--but lighting comes in second at 9%. And overall, lighting consumes 22% of all electricity produced in the US. Switching entirely to compact fluorescents (which isn't practical, but for the sake of argument...) could drop home consumption of electricity by lighting to 2.25%, and overall consumption to 5.5%.

Don't count out LED bulbs... And, easiest and most efficient of all, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS when you leave the room! :)

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 10:17am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Liza said:

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS when you leave the room!

Channeling my father, are we? ;-)

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 11:04am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

And close the door! I'm not paying to heat the whole outside! :)

Sometimes it turns out that Dad was right.

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 11:47am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

My dad raised his 11 kids up to use less water, too.

If its yellow, let it mellow. If its brown, flush it down.

Also, I shudder to think what the energy cost was when several high school wrestlers turned a dozen showers to full on hot in the shower room so they could jump rope for 20 minutes to sweat off some extra ounces before weighing in.

posted on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 12:47pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

GE announces a high-efficiency incandescent light, a "regular" light bulb that uses as little energy as a compact fluorescent.

posted on Sat, 03/03/2007 - 8:55pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A supermarket in Switzerland has switched to all-LED lights. The lights take less energy to run; they generate less heat (meaning the air conditioning doesn't have to work so hard); they are supposed to last five years, saving money on maintenance; and -- perhaps best of all -- they give off little UV light, meaning fruits and vegetables should stay fresher longer.

(I just installed some LED lights in a curio cabinet at home. The light is pretty weak, but for gently illuminating knick knacks, they work pretty well.)

posted on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 5:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Many stores here in the Twin Cities couldn't keep LED Christmas lights in stock last year. The colors are deep, the lights are bright, and they cost a lot less to run (although they're more expensive up front). Bet they'll be hot sellers this year, too...

posted on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 8:02pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

You'll get my traditional 5-watt incandescents when you pry them out of my cold, dead fingers!

posted on Mon, 03/05/2007 - 9:26pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A legislator in North Carolina has proposed a ban on incandescent lights. Is this unnecessary government intrusion on personal liberty, or a necessary step in saving the planet?

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 8:53am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I can't quite figure out why everyone's jumping straight to the ban on incandescents, instead of making other options more affordable and educating people about their advantages.

Maybe the thinking is that the cost can't be reduced enough to make a difference without the pressure of a ban?

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 9:23am
Andrew McDowell's picture
Andrew McDowell says:

I think that a ban on incandescent lights would be going a little far. It might be a bit of a protrusion on personal liberty. But, I do think that those compact-flourescent lights are a great thing, and I have installed many in my home. I think that a major step that can be taken would be if the federal, state, and local governments could install these in their offices. That would be a good first step. Major businesses like casinos and hotels could also take action.

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 9:28am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Blogger Katherine Mangu-Ward reports on bulb-banning around the world.

posted on Wed, 03/28/2007 - 8:38am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

This article from the Wall Street Journal argues that government intervention isn't necessary, since people seem to be making the change to fluorescents all by themselves.

posted on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 7:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

what is incandescents???!!!

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 10:59am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

They are little heating devices that happen to also give off visible light.

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 11:26am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Also known as your standard round light bulb. ;-)

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 4:09pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

which is it: protrusion or intrusion? do the bulbs stick out or do they stick in? or rather is it the government?

posted on Sat, 03/24/2007 - 6:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've replaced my 3 hp pool pump with a high-efficiency permanant-magent type that already cut my monthly electic usage in half. Now I'm replacing all my incandescent fixtures with fluorescent ones (I don't like the swirly light bulbs that much). In several locations (including exterior security lights) I have LED floods. They're only 8 watts! Finally, I have motion-sensitive switches in the halls and kitchen--off after 5 minutes of inactivity. It always makes our guests jump!

posted on Thu, 03/29/2007 - 1:16pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

The Washington Post offers a survey of the different types of bulbs on the market.

posted on Mon, 04/09/2007 - 11:50am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

And now Popular Mechanics has an article rating the various different brands of compact fluorescents.

posted on Tue, 04/10/2007 - 10:54am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

One Billion Bulbs is a website that's trying to live up to its name. It wants to record one billion incandescent bulbs replaced with compact fluorescents.

posted on Mon, 04/23/2007 - 3:48pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed a law requiring the gradual phase-out of incandescent light bulbs in the US. Now, congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has introduced a bill to overturn the ban, claiming that this should be a choice left to individual citizens. Strib blogger James Lileks offers his thoughts.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 9:17am
Fluorescent light bulbs's picture

When the sun goes down artificial lighting such as fluorescent light bulbs and incandescent light bulbs is as essentially important as the sunlight to light our houses at night. Such lighting fixtures is a key part of interior design, and with a proper lighting plan, it can enhance task performance and aesthetics.

posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 10:45am

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