Going Green at Home: Step I

I am excited by the notion that we may be entering an era where we truly regard our fellow Americans as brothers and sisters, one in which we are willing to unite to address issues that affect all of us, one that looks and behaves like a national village.

It goes without saying that we are concerned as a nation about the economy. If you’re like me you are ready to act and you guess that there are others out there who are also ready to start acting locally towards making a difference. If the answer to future economic growth lies in a “green economy” and the future of our globe’s health lies in adopting “greener” habits, then it is time to make changes at home, yesterday.

The question for many is where to start. With a few clicks on the internet and some sifting through Wikipedia I arrived at the first step I will take. In an effort to begin “greening up” my household I am replacing all of my traditional incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). They last 8 to 10 times longer which more than offsets their higher cost. They do cost 3 to 10 times more, but compare the average life span of an incandescent bulb at 750 – 1,000 hours to that of a CFL at 6,000 – 15,000 hours. Not only do the bulbs have an extended life, but they offer significant energy savings as well. They use one fifth to one third the power of traditional incandescent lamps. Look at it as a 12 % savings on your monthly energy bill.

According to Wikipedia, household lighting accounted for 9 % of total U.S. energy usage in 2001. It is thought that a national commitment to the use of CFLs could result in a 7% reduction of that usage. Use of the bulbs does come with one concern. Each bulb contains a trace amount of mercury (approximately 4mg) which poses the threat of air and water pollution once they hit landfills and incinerators.

Don’t fret, all is not lost. Your local Home Depot participates in a CFL disposal program. So grab a recycled paper grocery sac, label it “Home Depot Recycling” for future expired bulbs and take it to buy a household stock off Compact Florescent Lamps.

Article Comments

4 thoughts on “Going Green at Home: Step I”

  1. Thanks for starting this discussion, Janelle. I have replaced my traditional light bulbs with CFLs in the lights we use most often. The next step is replacing all my remaining incandescent bulbs as they burn out. So glad to learn that the old bulbs can be recycled. I’ll be sure to drop mine off at Home Depot.

    Yesterday the subject of battery recycling came up yesterday in our office. My co-worker Theresa asked where she might recycle the bagful of dead batteries she’s been collecting. I offered to take them to my daughter’s school. Eastern Elementary here in TC has a collection tub in the school lobby for recycling batteries and another one for used printer cartridges. The Governmental Center and the fire station on Front St also collect used batteries. In fact, here’s the link to Grand Traverse County’s battery recycling program with a complete list of drop-off sites: http://www.co.grand-traverse.mi.us/departments/resource_recovery/recycling/battery_recycling.htm

    Check out your community’s recycling program. And if battery recycling drop-off sites aren’t convenient maybe you could suggest that your local school or hardware store set up a collection bin. Let’s keep those toxic batteries out of our landfills.

  2. A good point to remember with CFLs is that they last longer when used in lights that are normally on longer than 15 minutes. You may experience a few burnt out CFLs along the way if you have them in locations that the lights are on for only a few minutes. This should not be discouraging thou because it only happens once in a while. I put CFLs and LEDs in everyone of the homes we build and the houses we remodel.

    Great post.

  3. My family made this change last year, and we have seen a real reduction in our electric bill. We’ve even changed fan lights, outdoor lighting, and recessed kitchen spotlights to CFLs. All year, I have only changed one bulb. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Good post, it shows that you’ve done your research on CFLs. Andy and I switched our lights over and we’ve benefitted. Here are a few ideas for another post for some timely advice: plastic window wrapping (you can’t even tell it’s there and has brought us a savings of over 20% per month last year) and installing weather stripping along three sides of our doors. http://www.doityourself.com/stry/morereturn
    You can use self-adhesive or screw-on for more permanent use. We even went around and filled any holes and cracks in our door areas with insulating foam. When we filled our mail slot you could feel an immediate difference–we just nailed a decorative basket on the outside of our door for the mail. Little details make a big difference in the long run. If you want more info, let me know. We can co-autoher a glog post (green blog). Stay warm!

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