Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog had it right. There are a lot of 'green' things that are hard. It's hard to get out of your car and ride a bike or take mass transit (even if those are a generally a lot cheaper). It's hard to find truly green building materials; there's not as much variety yet, and in some cases they're more expensive (though in most cases those things pay for the difference over time).

But a really easy green thing to do is use compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent lights. It's hard to spell, so call them CFLs and say floor-ess-uhnt. And you don't have to spell it when you grab a package of them at your local hardware store. Recently, Seth Godin challenged bloggers to push the benefits of CFLs, as only 6% of the households in the U.S. are using them.

They take less energy than incandescents. Despite having a small amount of mecury in them, they put less mercury into the environment because burning coal for power (which is where large amounts of the power in the U.S. comes from) puts out (literally) tons of mercury. They give off less heat (not a big deal in winter, but no sense making your A/C or fans work harder than they have to in summer). They last longer so you don't have to get that step ladder out so often. Unlike fluorescent lights of old (though the long tube ones are still this way), they come on immediately and don't flicker.

And despite a higher up-front cost, over their lifetime they'll save an average of $66 each. We have a fairly small house, and I can think of 30 bulbs -- $1,980 of savings.

What's not to like? (OK, those annoying plastic blister packs they come in, for one.) But it can be easy to be green.


PJD said...

I recently happened upon a new show on HGTV called "Living With Ed." It's about Ed Begley and his wife living in his nearly entirely green house. It's really less about practical ways to make your house green and more about the relationship between Ed and his wife, but it's an amusing show. At least the premier episode was, which came on right after their broadcast of the Rose Parade.

By the way, I think HGTV's Rose Parade broadcast is far more informative, interesting, and enteraining than whatever major network also covered it. HGTV spends some time telling you what the floats are made of. The network broadcaster saw the Star Wars float and said, "It even has Chewytobacca!" (Maybe she said "chewing tobacco" and was talking about brown coloration on the float, but I think she was trying to refer to Chewbacca the Wookie.)

Unknown said...

Not having cable, we'll probably never see "Living With Ed". But he sounds like an interesting if slightly neurotic person.

"Chewytobacco"? Maybe RJ Reynolds was a secret sponsor of the float...

GreenGuy said...

I know this is an old post, but I like the topic and just had to comment. CFL's are terrific I use them in as many of the light fixtures in my home as I can. Some fixtures however they just won't fit in like a bath light fan in one of my bathrooms. They do save a lot on energy however, as much as 75% compared to a typical 60 Watt light bulb. A CFL replacement for a 60 Watt light bulb uses only 14 Watts.

I just read an interesting article about this very subject on another website (HomesWithCharacter.net) I think. I am thinking of going as green as I can and have been checking out sites all over about green. Including HGTV, one of my favorites, Homes With Character also found had a lot of green tips.