I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting into this spring cleaning and greening challenge. I hope you’ve made plans to join me! I’ve made a list of ecologically responsible “to-do’s” and plan to check them all off by Tuesday, April 22nd. In case you didn’t have that important date marked on your calendar, it’s Earth Day! What better goal than to finish our spring cleaning and earth-friendly home improvements by then? Our homes will thank us and so will our planet.
Item one on our list: replace traditional, incandescent light bulbs with eco-friendly compact florescent lights (CFL’s).
So, what’s the deal with those funny coiled bulbs and why are they a big deal? In short, they light our world using less energy, ergo less money in the form of lighting and electric bills. Regular, old incandescent bulbs are terribly inefficient. Up to 98% of the energy they use is transferred as heat, not light. For every dollar you spend lighting your home with these dinosaurs, you’re actually wasting ninety-eight cents. Furthermore, the average home spends 12% of their typical home energy bill just on lighting. CFL’s are, on average, 75% more efficient than incandescents. If you make a wholesale switch, you’re likely to cut the lighting portion of your energy bill by three-fourths… every, single year!
If the savings to your pocketbook is not enough of an incentive, consider this. By 2020, when the Natural Resources Defense Council fully implements new energy criterion and every manufactured bulb must comply to efficiency standards, the US will eliminate the need for 33 large power plants. What this means in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is practically unquantifiable. All we know for sure is that it will be the largest, single reduction of CO2 production our country has ever known. The impact on our environment? Priceless.
Do be aware that CFL’s cost more than traditional light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs cost about seventy-five cents per bulb. CFL’s cost about $1.87. If you have fifteen lighting sources to convert, you’ll spend about $17.00 more than if you were buying traditional bulbs. BUT… and this is a biggie: Over 10,000 hours of use, you can expect to use about fifteen CFL’s versus 150 non-CFL bulbs. If you crunch those numbers, you save approximately $84 by converting to CFL’s. Yes, they cost a bit more up front, but you’ll replace them far less often.
Time to get off my lighting soapbox, but before I do, I’d offer one more lighting consideration. When you make your trip to the home improvement’s store for all those new light bulbs, think about purchasing and installing dimmer switches for the lighting sources that are most often used in your home. Not only will you be able to control the quality of your illumination, but you can get extended life out of bulbs that aren’t constantly operating at full capacity.