Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Go Green & Save Some Green Tip of the Week #5

What's tonight's tip? Well, as the days get shorter, we're turning on the lights more often in the morning and earlier after work, so let's talk about 1 simple way to save energy costs and help the environment. Can you guess what it is?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Yup, those funny spiral bulbs that you see next to the regular (incandescent) bulbs in the store.

(To be accurate, not all CFLs look funny from the outside. As you can kind of see, the floodlight bulb actually has the spiral tube encased in a normal floodlight "shell.")

What's so great about them? Well, they use up to 80% less electricity than regular bulbs and last 7-8 times as long. This means you'll see savings in your electric bill, have to buy fewer bulbs and have to change bulbs less frequently. The low energy requirements also means there will be less emissions released from power plants and the fewer bulbs required means less waste to put in landfills.

We like CFLs so much, we bought them in bulk ($9.99 for an 8-pack at BJs!) and have put them throughout our house.

I know what you're thinking. $10 for 8 light bulbs? Why bother when I can get a 4-pack of regular bulbs for a buck?! Remember what I said before - you'll use 80% less energy, which means saving up to 80% of your lighting-related electricity costs! The Sylvania 13W bulbs shown above use 75% less energy than the regular 60W bulbs they replaced and will save, on average, $37 PER BULB in energy costs over the life of the bulbs. So for the fixture above, that's a whopping $111 savings for a one-time extra investment of less than $1 per bulb.

One thing to note is that when CFLs do finally die, you can't just throw them away. They contain small amounts of mercury, so they have to be disposed of properly. Most towns offer hazardous waste days a couple of times a year, or you can recycle the bulbs at select locations. In the valley, many Aubuchon Hardware Stores have CFL recycling programs (www.aubuchon.com). Or you can go to www.earth911.org to find another disposal/recycling location near you.

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