Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You light up my life

The Administrator of the EPA was on NPR this morning, talking about "Change A Light Day." (Which, apparently, was today. Surprise!)

The EPA would like you to know that compact fluorescent bulbs use one-third the energy of an incandescent bulb. Supposedly, if every household in America would just switch to use one compact fluorescent, we could save one million cars' worth of pollution. Change a bulb, save the planet. But that's not why I'm telling you.

If you're good at math, you probably just figured out that one-third the electricity costs one-third the money. Sure, the bulbs cost more (a fair bit more) at the store. But they say that, over the life of the bulb, they should save enough energy to pay for themselves. Change a bulb, save some dough. But that's also not why I'm telling you.

I can hear the doubters, because I used to be one. Won't they give off nasty green light like a department store? Won't they flicker? They don't. They won't. They give a warm, steady light.

OK, so I drank the Kool-Aid. We're already using a bunch of them at home. So it's true that I'm looking for people to switch so that they'll sell better and price will go down. And because we've replaced almost all the bulbs we can, so I can't change much more myself. And that's still not why I'm telling you.

I'm telling you because compact fluorescent bulbs are a way cool labor saving device which reduce one of my most annoying household tasks. See, they last forever. You know those annoying fixtures which are just a little too high, or the shades are a pain to get off? Replace the bulb with a fluorescent and forget it. They can stand up to a mid-Ohio winter in our outdoor fixtures, which are my absolute least favorite to change. Reaching over my head to mess with stupid little thumbscrews, invariably in the dark and cold... I'll buy anything that makes that job go away.

They're not perfect. Since they're on ballast, not filament, you can't use them with a dimmer switch. And since ballasts can get fire hazard hot when they burn out, you cannot use them upside down or in a ceiling can. So, of course, our new upstairs is full of ceiling cans on dimmers. They're not exactly gorgeous, so we don't use them in all these ceiling fans we've got. (OK, the Energy Star site says you can get dimmable, encloseable, and ornamental lights, but my Kroger doesn't sell them.)

They also have to warm up for about a minute. I think this is a really cool effect as the light gradually grows, but if you have need for full light as soon as you hit the switch, that might be the wrong place.

So switch to save the planet, to save some dough, and to save some labor. Switch because it's no long-term sacrifice at all. But most importantly

switch because it's cool

like me.


Blogger tommyspoon said...

I'm gonna need some evidence of this light before I switch. I HATE fluorescent lighting. I am exposed to it for 9 hours a day at work so I don't want to come home to it.

Pictures! I want pictures!

10:30 AM, October 06, 2005  
Blogger Swankette said...

I'm coming to the realization that we have very few non-upside down lights in the house.

11:57 AM, October 06, 2005  
Blogger Joe said...

Remember the overhead light in our living room? That was one.

You don't remember? My point exactly.

1:43 PM, October 06, 2005  
Blogger Alison said...

It's less the upside-down-ness than the enclosed-ness. We have a few of them in lights that are inverted - they just can't be the ones that are enclosed cans - it gets too hot.

8:16 PM, October 06, 2005  

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