Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Week Four--Light Up Your Life with Less Energy

For Week Four of Green Boot Camp, I want you to focus on the lights in your house. That is, I would like you to go through your home, both inside and out, and count how many lamps and light fixtures you have. Once you have this inventory, I'd like for you to go to the store and stock up on compact fluorescent bulbs or CFLs.

CFLs are those twisty light bulbs that are a huge step-up, light-wise, from the flickering, sickly green-casting fluorescent bulbs we all remember from our school days. No, these new CFLs cast light that looks a bit more like the incandescent "hot" bulbs that we are used to and which use a ton of energy. Because unlink incandescent bulbs, CFLs are cool to the touch, use less energy--and last so much longer.

Switching out all of your regular light bulbs for CFLs is one of the easiest things you can do to adopt a more green lifestyle, to make your home more green, and to save money. Oprah just did a show last week on going green, and she couldn't say enough about CFLs. I can vouch for the benefits of CFLs as well.

Last fall I did what I'm suggesting that you do--change all of our light bulbs to CFLs. While we've adopted other energy-saving measures (many of which I will discuss in coming weeks), these new, energy-efficient light bulbs were probably the biggest and most consistent change we made in our home. And you know what? I've watched our electric bill shrink. I'm talking hundreds of dollars of difference each month.

Now I realize that you'll probably spend a bit more upfront in buying CFLs, because they cost more than traditional bulbs. But trust me--your savings will come to you soon enough.

Studies show that CFLs last 10 as long as traditional light bulbs, meaning a bulb you install in your living room today might not need to be replaced until 2012. At the same time, Energy Star says CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. So, in the long run, you won't have to buy as many light bulbs for your home, and you won't have to pay as much to the electric company for having your lights on because they use so much less energy.

One thing to consider when buying your CFLs: buy them in bulk and in earth-friendly packaging. Too many companies have packaged CFL bulbs in hard-to-open and impossible-to-recycle plastic clam shell packaging. If you're given the choice, choose your bulbs in a paper-based container instead.


Krista said...

I found compact fluorescent bulbs at Sam's Club, and was able to change most of the bulbs in my house for around $18. My local club has an 8 pack of 13 watt (60 watt equivalent) for $12.73. They have a 10 pack available online for $24.33 + shipping.

If you have a Sam's Club membership (or know someone who does) call and ask if they still have them.

Leah Ingram said...

Thanks for the tip on multipacks. I'm a BJs Warehouse member, so I'll have to head over there this weekend and see if I can find similar deals.

Steve said...

Thanks for the article. I did a search online and found several retailers selling these things. I bought mine from springlightcfl.com and changed out my whole house, except where I need bulbs that can be dimmable. Hopefully those will start to pop up soon.

Cynthia Samuels said...

Costco has economy packs of the bulbs too - and in ours, at least, also posts utility company rebate numbers. Very exciting. THIS IS A GREAT BLOG!

Tristin said...

People need to be aware that CFLs contain mercury, and need to be disposed of at a hazmat site. With this in mind its best not to switch lights that are used for only short times to CFLs. Being used for short times actually lessens the life span of CFLs. My family discovered this the hard way when a new CFL burned out in less than 1 month because it was in a light that was only turned on for under 5 minutes at a time.