Just one bulb

October 8th, 2007


I waited in the car while my husband went to get a pipe for our dryer efficiency project (much more on that later) and he brought me back an ENERGY STAR fluorescent light bulb. He said I could write about it in my blog!

It was a nice surprise. I decided I would gradually replace each bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb. Why?

* They last for seven years with a warranty included (most brands like Sylvania offer this).

* You can replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 13-watt fluorescent bulb.

* Compared to an incandescent bulb, fluorescent bulbs save money ($30 or more over a bulb’s lifetime) and electricity (use 75 percent less energy) and help eliminate waste (last 10 times longer).

* According to ENERGY STAR, if every U.S. home replaced just one bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, the energy saved would light more than 3 million homes for a year.

There aren’t very many downsides to using fluorescent bulbs, but you do have to dispose of them properly. They contain mercury. Many local facilities provide disposal. You can visit www.lamprecycle.org for more info. In the event a bulb breaks, clean up can be performed safely by the general public.

Most fluorescent bulbs cost around $6. That means you pay less than a dollar a year to use one bulb, and you save more than that on utilities over the bulb’s lifetime. It sounds to me like this is a small investment with a big payoff for you and the environment. The ENERGY STAR website offers many tips on how to choose and where to use these bulbs.

I have to thank my cat for helping me get my first fluorescent bulb. A few weeks ago he flew over my head while I was sitting in my recliner. In an attempt to avoid my iced tea in his landing path, he hit the lamp. Yes, it was a very weird happening and he killed my incandescent bulb. I suppose in a case like this, the seven-year warranty on a fluorescent bulb would be void (it applies to normal household usage), but I digress.

So, fellow greeners, if you don’t already have these bulbs, I encourage you to make a plan for replacing your current bulbs. You can simply buy a new one as the need arises, or you can come up with a six-month plan (If you need 12 bulbs, you buy two a month for six months).

These bulbs are not new, but there is a renewed interest in them because of their energy-saving capacity. Even Wal-Mart is pushing them. I don’t shop there, but there’s been much talk about this in the media.

Happy bulbing.