Wise and progressive people are both environmentally-friendly as well as frugal. I suppose because these two concepts marry the ideas of recycling, reducing, and re-purposing.
At each rental property I have lived in, one of the first things I did was switch all the old incandescent bulbs the place “came with” to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
It made me feel confident that my electric bill would be about a third the price of what it would have been if I didn’t switch bulbs, and it also made me feel good knowing that when I left the place, I’d leave the new tenants with money-saving, environmentally-friendly light bulbs. Compact fluorscents last 9-16 years, but I hope that someday if a bulb goes out, the next “owner” will be more likely to replace it with the same thing.
When I visited my parents home around Christmas, I noticed how many lights were left on in rooms people were not in, as well as the sheer volume of bulbs in that house. And, my parents always raised us kids on “always turn out the light when you leave a room.” I guess that idealism has slipped a bit in their empty nest.
Slightly miffed, (energy-sucking hypocrites!) I went around the house and counted the number and type of bulbs. This included lamps, overhead lights, oven, refrigerator, and garage door opener lights, as well as bulbs in the attic, basement, closets, and outdoors.
I did not count lights that were not in use, like old, unplugged lamps, holiday decorations, or lights in other buildings, like the cabana, gazebo, and pool pump house.
I approached my parents separately and asked them to guess how many lights they have in their house, and how many were currently on.
My mom guessed 49 lights total, with five on.
My dad guessed 30 lights with three on.
They have 121 light bulbs plugged in and available for use in their house. 67 are normal bulbs, 34 are “flame” bulbs (they like their colonial charm), 12 are indoor recessed lighting spotlights, 5 are outdoor floodlights, 2 are small bulbs and they have just 1 mini-flame.
At the time, 19 light bulbs were on.
This is sick!
So, I knew then and there just what they were getting for Christmas.
Santa came with loads of presents: for my parents. Boxes and boxes begged to be opened, their contents yearning to be played with. Usually, they enjoy watching my sister and I open our gifts, but this year, the spotlight was on them. Santa brought them thirteen boxes of compact fluorescent light bulbs, amounting to 64 “regular” CFL bulbs. Because nothing says “I care about your carbon footprint” like the gift of Compact Fluorescents. Previously, I had bought them a pack of CFL spotlights since a few went out, unnoticed. But this would be a sea-change, a huge hit, replacing almost all the regular bulbs.
Because this was my idea, I spent a good portion of Christmas afternoon unscrewing and screwing in bulbs until my wrist ached.
“Save the old ones in case these go out,” my dad suggested. Bull-shit I will. Those things went straight to the recycling bin.
Even with a freezing January, necessitating the use both of the furnace as well as multiple space heaters and much more indoor activity, the savings to their following bill was immense.
Besides the “green factor” and the long life of CFLs, my favorite thing about these fancy bulbs is that you can put as bright a bulb as you want in any socket. This is because the 19 Watt CFLs are comparable in lumens to a 100 watt incandescent. There is almost no way you can put too high a wattage CFL bulb in, because the watts just don’t go that high. You can make your home as bright as you like.
I also love that there are different “color temperatures” offered. Go to Home Depot and check out the live display. You can get cool, bluish lights or very warm, yellowy lights, depending on the mood you want to create.
Additionally, these bulbs are very safe around children because they don’t get hot like incandescents. They get a little warm, but you can absolutely touch them while they are on.
I vividly remember the first time I touched an incandescent! I was about six or seven and touched a peach-colored crayon to the bulb of the lamp on my nightstand. When I attempted to wipe off the melted way, boy, did my finger turn pink then white fast. It was a bad burn that I will never forget. I am glad my future spawn will never have to learn that lesson.
See if your state is running any special funding or promotions for compact fluorescent light bulbs. Recently the Connecticut Energy commission had a grant where light bulbs at Walmart were deeply discounted. Yes, I know how bad it is to shop there, but this was worth it: a pack of four 19 watt (comparable to 100 watt brightness) were $3.78, and four 14 watt bulbs (as bright as a 60 watt) were $0.76! Often, just one CFL bulb cost $9-$15, so if you have a program like this, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity and load up while you can.
Have you switched your home or office to CFLs? How much did you save? Have you had one burn out yet? I’d love to hear about your experiences: Missy@melissamiko.com