The Incontiguous Brick

May 18, 2007

Can new lightbulbs really save the world?

Filed under: Environment,Our World — iknowkeith @ 6:47 am

If you read the environmental blogs you would think so. But how much can the new energy saving light bulbs really help?

According to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, if every home replaced one bulb with a CFL, it would be equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.

Wow, that is a lot of cars! The idea is that less coal has to be burned to provide energy to homes that use compact fluorescent lights (CFL’s). This works because a CFL is 70-75% more efficient than an incandescent bulb. I have recently installed CFL’s in my home and I home everyone else does too. I think they are great.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really get at the heart of the issue. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. It has nothing to do with how much we make, it is about how much we have to spend. Therefore, if we save in one area we are more likely to just spend it somewhere else. For many of us, that means more shopping, eating out, etc.

So by saving electricity at home, we now have more money to spend on dining out or babysitters so we can go out, or just shopping, you get the idea. We can save energy at home (and money), but unless we put that savings toward retirement all we did was drive more than before.

In theory, CFL’s could make the amount of CO2 emissions actually go up in areas that rely on nuclear or hydroelectric power for their homes!

So lets not go down that road. Save you money. Drive less. And maybe even plant a tree.


1 Comment »

  1. The energy savings is based on the theory that you will use a lower wattage bulb.
    What bulb you uses does not matter. A 40W incandescent uses the exact same amount of power as a 40W CFL.
    If you feel as though the CFL seems dim and buy two 40W CFLs to replace one 60W incandescent you have not saved energy. Regardless, the power plant has no idea how much you intend to use and will probably burn enough coal to deal with the possibility that you are going to use 100W.
    A CFL must be recycled because it contains mercury, the box it came in clearly labeled it as household hazardous waste. The CFL costs even more because your state now has to build recycling centers, but you do not see this cost at the checkout counter.
    True energy savings occur when you do not use any bulb (i.e. natural lighting.) The old cliche of parents yelling at their kids to turn off lights when they leave rooms is true energy conservation.

    Comment by H — July 12, 2007 @ 9:42 am | Reply

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