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Energy Efficient Lighting Saves Money and Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

November 24, 2008

CFLs save energy and the planet

Change Your Bulbs

One of the simplest steps that can be taken to reduce your carbon footprint is also one of the smartest investments you can make in your home.  While lighting makes up about 20% of the average home electricity bill, it makes sense that reducing the amount of electricity used can have a substantial impact on your bills over time.  A single compact fluorescent light bulb has a lifetime equal to that of 10 incandescents and they can be purchased for around $2 (versus $1).  Consider the number of hours of the lifetime of the bulb – the CFL will last about 10,000 hours while the incandescent lasts only 1000 hours.  The U.S. E.P.A. estimates that you will save over $30 in energy costs per bulb over its lifetime.

The environmental impact of energy efficient lighting can be quite profound.  By replacing just 5 light bulbs with compact fluorescents, you can save 500 pounds of CO2 a year according to the Low Carbon Diet by David Gershon.  On a broader scale, Energy Star reports that “if every American household replaced just one light with an Energy Star light, we would save more than $600 in annual energy costs, while preventing 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions of about 800,000 cars.”  Take the Energy Star Pledge to do just that here.

Over the years, the complaints about early versions of CFLs have been wiped out by new developments.  They do not flicker, they are available in multiple colors and shades, and are now priced competitively.  They have penetrated our culture far enough that President George W. Bush signed an energy bill that requires the phasing out of incandescents by 2012.  Clearly their time has come.

Small Amounts of Mercury

The is really only one major downside to CFLs – they contain small amounts of mercury which is known to be hazardous to humans particularly children and pregnant women.  If one is broken, the EPA recommends leaving the area for about 15 minutes before returning for cleanup.  This also means that recycling of old bulbs is absolutely necessary;  they should never be thrown in the trash where they will eventually return to nature.  To learn more about the cleanup process, go to www.energystar.gov/CFLsandMercury.

Recycling Locations

While it took some time for retailers to catch on to the idea that they should accept CFLs for recycling, Home Depot announced this year that it is introducing a company-wide initiative to accept these bulbs for recycling.  This includes our local Home Depot stores.  You may also take them to the Farmington Road Hardware store (309/676-7811) in West Peoria.

The Future of Lighting

In the future, expect CFLs to be replaced with LED lighting.  The CFL lasts about 10,000 hours over the lifetime of the bulb while the LED will last about 60,000 hours.  Currently, the LED can cost $30 or more per bulb, but are fully expected to the bulb of choice in the future.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kiersten Sheets permalink*
    December 15, 2008 4:50 PM

    Unfortunately, the hardware store has closed. Another location for CFL recycling is Cash & Carry Lumber in East Peoria.

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