Going Green Experiment: Day Six…When the lights go out

It took me about fifteen minutes into my morning routine today to remember that today was our first Tuesday in the ‘Going Green Experiment’ in which we committed to not turning the lights on all day! I realized as I was shaving for work this morning in our windowless bathroom that it could get pretty dicey shaving in the dark, and I might wind up with scars like ‘Batman’s’ Joker. So I quickly finished shaving and then immediately turned off our bathroom light to begin our first day of, ‘the lights are off, but somebody’s home’.

When initially forming the plan for the ‘Going Green Experiment’, turning off the lights in our house was the first, and most romantic, idea that came to my mind. But today I found myself wondering, “just how much am I helping the environment by leaving my lights turned off?” There’s no dispute that it is an advantage to our bank account, saving on electricity by leaving the lights off all day will cut down our bill each month, not to mention keep our second story apartment cooler in the 95 degree weather we had today. But the goal isn’t to save money and benefit us, thought its a nice side advantage, it’s to help the environment that I’ve neglected for so long.

After researching effective ways to limit wasting electricity in our house, I noticed that the most efficient way that I can eliminate wasted electricity is to not only leave our house lights off when they are not needed, but to switch from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs. More than 90 percent of the energy produced by incandescent lights is heat, not light. So having incandescent lights on in our home is not only wasting light energy but heating our house unnecessarily in the summer.

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights would limit our electricity consumption to one-fourth of its current amount. Many fluorescent lights now have a screw base that fits into normal sockets and lasts 10 to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Not only can fluorescent bulbs last longer, but they save a considerable amount of energy. According to Green Sangha, “A single 20-watt compact fluorescent lamp used at home in place of a 75-watt incandescent will save about 550 kilowatt-hours over its lifetime. If your electricity is produced in a coal-fired power plant (like 20 percent of California’s electricity is), that savings represents nearly 500 pounds of coal not burned, which means that 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide and 20 pounds of sulfur dioxide will not get into the atmosphere.”

So while they might be more expensive (ranging from $5-$9) fluorescent bulbs could help significantly reduce the amount of energy wasted in your home, as well as last longer, which will save you (and me) on costs in the long run. Compact fluorescent bulbs can be found at your local hardware store. Look for the ‘Energy StarÆ’ label on fluorescent bulbs and receive discounts and rebates.

So with a sticky note on the bathroom light switch as a reminder and a cooler house, I’m heading down to our hardware store and picking up fluorescent bulbs, a more efficient and environment-friendly way to live on this planet.

Leave ideas, comments or questions about the ‘Going Green Experiment’ below.

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