The Greener Home - Building for the Future
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?
Is the light quality they put out any good?
and, truthfully now...
Can I really make $546 in just 1 hour by putting them in my house?
The answer is "Yes" to all those questions.
We searched the web to find some real proof that those funny-looking spiral shaped CFL bulbs and pricey LED blubs 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 8,647 hours. The second LED bulb we replaced it with has now been burning for over 10,000 hours and is still shinning.
So you can rely on getting 8,000 to 10,000 hours of use out of a single CFL or LED blub, unless you happen to get one which has a manufacturing defect (which does happen on a rare occasion). Compared to the pitiful 1,000 hours or less you get out of the old standard household incandescent bulbs, that is very impressive. And it means that in the long run these "expensive" bulbs cost less that traditional bulbs -- and that's not figuring in the money you save by using 60% to 90% less electricity whenever you turn on the lights.
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 and LED 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 or LED 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 and LED 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).
Also, you are no longer stuck with just the spiral-shaped bulb. They now make globe-shaped CFLs and LED bulbs that are almost identical to the old familiar iglobe-shaped incandescent bulbs, plus reflector types, mini-styles floodlight styles for overhead lighting fixtures, etc.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CFL AND LED BULBS:
No, it's not just that the LED will cost you twice as much as the CFL (although that is irritating, isn't it?). The important difference is that CFL blubs use a tiny amount of mercury to cause the gas inside them to glow and LED bulbs do not — they use a technology similar to your big flat-screen TV to produce light).
But even the tiny bit of mercury in CFL bulbs is highly poisonous if the bulb cracks or breaks and it escapes into the atmosphere (or the bulbs are improperly disposed of). So they are simply not the best choice anymore, now that we have LED bulbs which do the same thing even better.
Finally, because they don't "burn hot" like CFL bulbs do, the LED bulb is going to last much longer. So their extra up-front cost works out to be not too bad after all. The Greener Home seriously recommends paying a few extra bucks and going with LED bulbs these days.
As for making $546 in just one hour...
The editor of The Greener Home 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 energy-efficient bulbs.
Then it took him another 30 minutes to go around the house taking out the old 60 to 75 watt incandescent bulbs and screwing in the new bulbs in their place. Total time: 1 hour. Total cost: $23.96 plus tax. So, how did he make $546 in that one hour? He went to an online cost calculator and put the specifics of what he'd just done and looked at the bottom line results:
You can do the same for yourself — with one of the newer calculators designed for using LED blubs: http://www.bulbs.com/learning/energycalc.aspx
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 or LED bulbs — well, what are you waiting for?
25 simple and fairly easy ways to cut your carbon emissions
Here's one of the best quick-lists we've seen. | Every day in many small ways, you can green up your home life. | Click Here
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