While we wait for the government to make up its mind about carbon credits and/or carbon and gas taxes, the easiest and fastest thing we can do to cut our personal carbon emissions and save money is to change every single light bulb we use to CFLs. I’m sure there’s no one reading this blog hasn’t already heard this. I’m going to attempt to debunk some of the excuses I’ve heard for why people aren’t changing their bulbs.
But before I do that, I’d like to note that since buildings consume 40 percent of all the energy used in the U.S and 70 percent of all the electricity, it is imperative that those of us who daily contribute to this astonishing number take some responsibility for reducing it. The first place that we all have control of is our homes. Another astonishing number that I would like to sear into your brain is that the 300+ million people in the United States consume fully 25 percent of all the energy in the world!
There is no doubt that governnments will have to step in to do the heavy lifting. Some state governments are taking the lead. Californians for instance, because of policies put in place by the state, currently produce less than half of the green house emissions of their fellow Americans. California’s per capita electricity consumption has stayed flat for the last thirty years while the rest of the country has doubled it’s consumption, according to research from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the nation’s most important environmental advocacy organizations.
So to address the “why I haven’t changed my light bulb” excuses:
1. They’re too expensive.
CFLs do cost more than incandescent bulbs. But, they last for up to 10,000 hours. So you’ll replace them every few years, not every few months. Besides that, prices have come way down especially if you purchase them in the big box stores like Home Depot. A four pack of 14watt bulbs (the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent bulb) is only $5.85.
2. What about the mercury?
“An average CFL contains 4 milligrams of mercury. That tiny quantity of mercury — essential for the energy efficiency of CFLs — is about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen and is far less than the mercury inside other common household objects. For example, watch batteries have 5 times the mercury and older thermometers have 500 milligrams, equal to 125 CFLs.” (NRDC website) Home Depot has a recycling program for CFLs . Also check with your city or county since they may have a recycling program for CFLs as well.
3. What if I break one?
CFL’s last so long that there’s less chance of breaking one. Read more about CFLs and what to do if you break one.
4. I don’t like the light from CFLs.
It’s true the light is different in CFLs . So you’ll probably have to adjust your expectations. This isn’t much different than when we change anything in our lives to something we’re not used to. Here is an interesting article about one homeowner’s experience as she made the switch from incandescents to CFLs.
When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, call me, your going green real estate advisor.
Gayle Fleming, Keller William Realty
Follow me on Twitter@ecogayle