SfGS: Lights

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Why conserve energy?

  • Comprising only 5% of the global population, Americans consume 25% of the earth's energy.
  • Every American consumes over 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, nearly 10 times the average of the rest of the world (statistics from the Rocky Mountain Institute).

It’s often easy to forget that our energy resources are not limitless. Electricity flows from our outlets, gasoline pumps effortlessly into our cars and the world around us hums and purrs mechanically as we push a button or turn a key. But our complacency with a steady stream of energy and fuel is an illusion, rendered slightly more apparent by the massive power grid failure in the northeast last August. Subsequent discussion should have focused on how cutting our needs for energy would reduce the load on the grid to help prevent future collapse. Being a responsible consumer includes healthy and mindful attitudes towards energy consumption.

One simple way you can reduce your electricity consumption, in addition to dousing the juice, is to switch from regular light bulbs to compact flourescent light bulbs.

What you can do today to save energy

  • Shut off or dim your lights for just one hour between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.
  • Help place "douse the juice" stickers in your dorm if you live in Baker, Bexley, Burton-Conner, East Campus, Eastgate, Edgerton, Green Hall, McCormick, New House, Next House, NW30, Random Hall, Senior House, Sidney & Pacific, Simmons Hall, Warehouse, or Westgate. A pizza party will be awarded in a drawing during Earth Day to two of the dorms which successfully complete their stickering campaign. See here for instructions.
  • Switch over to CFL light bulbs (see below)

CFL vs regular incandescent bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs turn 90% of the energy they consume into heat but only 10% into light. Compact flourescent light bulbs (CFL) last over 10 times as long as conventional incandescent light bulbs, use 1/4 the electricity, and provide the same warm color quality.

You can buy CFL bulbs at the following local hardware stores: Tags Ace Hardware in Porter Square, Economy Hardware and Pill Hardware in Central Square, Dickson Brothers Co. in Harvard Square, Inman Square Hardware Inc. in Inman Square, and Masse Hardware at Walden St.

If you are still curious about the differences between CFL and incandescent bulbs, check the light site.

All fluorescent light bulbs have tiny amounts of mercury in them. Although you can throw CFL bulbs in normal household trash in MA, you should dispose of them as you would other household hazardous waste products such as paint or batteries. Do the negative effects of mercury outweigh the energy benefits? No. The US EPA states that given a choice between CFL and ordinary incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs are better because they save money, conserve energy, reduce landfill waste, and reduce coal-fired power plant emissions. For more information on CFls, please download this PDF from the light site.

CFL bulbs last 10 times longer + use less energy + save you money. You do the math:

+ assuming 100 hrs/month of use at 10¢/kWh Remember: CFL bulbs are much brighter than regular bulbs with the same wattage. If you are replacing a 60-Watt regular bulb, look for a 12- or 15-Watt CFL bulb.
Type of bulb 60 Watt Regular 15 Watt CFL
Price of one bulb $0.50 $5.00
Number of bulbs purchased in 5 yrs 8 1
Total cost of bulbs $4.00 $5.00
Total cost of electricity+ $36.00 $9.00
YOUR TOTAL COST $40.00 $14.00