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Get to know your personal C02 emissions
We hear all this talk about greenhouse gas emissions and how the big culprit in climate change is the burning of hydrocarbon fuels which sends C02 gas (carbon dioxide) into the upper atmosphere where it stays, builds up and traps extra heat from the sun, eventually over-heating out planet. OK, we get that. But when it comes to our personal contribution to this very serious problem -- and what we as individuals can actually do about it -- it seems too big, too hard to get a personal sense of how we fit in to any real solution.
Knowing how your personal activities affect the situation is the first step towards making a real change -- and to turn the world around everyone will have to make an effort. Here's a very easy and fast online tool you can use to get to know your personal carbon emission footpint. It is a government website, so there is no hidden agenda buried in this tool to try to get you to purchase some company's product or buy any so-called 'carbon offsets'. If you can get hold of your latest electric and natural gas bills you can get more accurate results with this tool, but that isn't necessary to try it out:
Everyone says I should replace my regular light bulbs with Compact Flourescent (CFL) bulbs, but...
Do those CFL bulbs really last 10,000 hours?
The answer is "Yes" to all those questions. We searched the web trying find some real proof that those funny-looking spiral shaped CFL bulbs actually do last as long as the 8,000 to 10,000 hours claimed on the package but we didn't have much luck, so we decided to test the claim ourselves:
Here at The Greener Home we have a lamp in the office that stays on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We realized it would make an ideal test subject because that works out to 8,760 hours per year. So two years ago we replaced the standard 60-watt incandescent bulb in that lamp with a 13-watt CFL (which puts out about the same light as the old 60-watt bulb) and then we waited. That CFL bulb finally burned out after 8,347 hours. The second CFL bulb we replaced it with has now been burning for over 9,000 hours and is still shinning.
So, the truth is that you can rely on getting 8,000 to 10,000 hours of use out of a single CFL bulb unless you happen to get one which has a manufacturing defect (which does happen on a rare occasion, just as it does with regular incandescent bulbs). Compared to the pitiful 1,000 hours or less you get out of the old standard household incandescent bulbs, that is very impressive.
The quality of the light put out by modern CFL bulbs is excellent -- if you don't make the mistake we did and buy one that is labeled as a "sunlight" or "daylight" bulb.
Those sunlight CFL bulbs put out a very harsh, cold light most people find irritating which also tends to make everything in the room look kind of green. Yuck. We don't even know why the manufacturers continue to make the "sunlight" CFL. Are people using them to grow weed in their houses or what? Anyway, if you buy the CFL bulbs labeled "soft white" or "standard" you'll find the kind of light they put out is very close to what your old incandescent bulb provided, only maybe not quite as bright. If you need the exact same brightness from a lamp, then you should get a 20-watt CFL (75-watt equivalent) to replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
Modern soft white CFL bulbs do *not* flicker like some of the old ones did many years ago (and like the big flourescent tubes in office buildings still do today). On a final quality of light note, while a CFL bulb does comes on immediately, it takes about 30 to 60 seconds to completely warm up and put out its full brightness.
Also, you are no longer stuck with just the spiral-shaped bulb. They now make globe-shaped CFLs very similar to the old familiar incandescent, plus reflector types, mini-styles for overhead lighting fixtures, etc.
As for making $546 in just one hour, the editor of this website did exactly that -- by simply by taking 30 minutes to go down to the local mega retail store and buy a couple of six-packs of CFL bulbs. It took him another 30 minutes to go around the house taking out the old 60 watt incandescent bulbs and screwing in the new CFL bulbs in their place. The total cost was $23.96 plus tax. So, how did he make $544 in that one hour? He went to a website called E3living.com and put the specifics of what he'd just done into their marvelous on-line form and looked at the bottom line results:
You can do the same for yourself at http://www.e3living.com/cfl-savings-calculator
Of course, you may not care about making an extra $500 for one hour of easy effort. And you may not care about how easy it is to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 you personally are causing to be put into the atmosphere by continuing to use the old energy-hog incandescent light bulbs.
But if that is not who you are and you haven't yet changed over to CFL bulbs, what the heck are you waiting for?
Oh, one more thing: If that *is* who you are then you should know that in December of 2008 a federal law went into effect in the United States which effectively bans the sale of 40-watt to 150-watt household incandescent bulbs starting in 2012, so you might as well just go ahead and make the money now and start reducing those emissions anyway.