If every home in America took the Energy Star® “Change a Light” pledge to replace at least one standard light bulb in their home with an Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.
“We would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars,” according to Energy Star, the joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA that was created to help consumers save money and protect the environment by using energy-efficient products.
Simply changing a light bulb saves energy, time, and money, reducing significant amounts of GHGs from entering the atmosphere, while leaving more money in your pocket.
CFLs are better for the environment as it last ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs, produce about 75 percent less heat, and use two-thirds less energy. A 13-watt CFL will outlast and use less energy than a 60-watt incandescent bulb, saving you about $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.
As lighting accounts for
close to 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill, the savings from choosing
CFLs really add up, financially and environmentally.
Available in all shapes and sizes, CFLs perform best in fixtures with airflow, such as table and floor lamps. A reflector rather than a spiral CFL is better for recessed fixtures, as it more evenly distributes the light, according to Energy Star.
CFLs are also available for dimmer or three-way switch lighting. Energy Star
recommends installing qualified CFLs first in fixtures that are used at least 15
minutes at a time or several hours per day. As CFLs contain about 5 milligrams of mercury sealed within the glass tubing
—roughly equivalent to the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen—
they should be handled carefully and disposed of correctly. (CFLs still use less
mercury on a net basis than incandescent bulbs.)
Many manufacturers are taking steps to reduce the amount of mercury used in their fluorescent lighting products, thanks to technology advances and a commitment from the members of the National Electrical Manufacturers
The EPA recommends that consumers recycle CFLs and is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand disposal options.
What are other ways to green your lighting? Buy lights with timers (the only energy-efficient way to keep your house looking lived-in while you’re on vacation) and motion sensors (a great alternative to keeping exterior home lights
burning all night long).
You can also provide attractive exterior night lighting with solar lights that power up during the day.
Use as much natural light as possible during the day, even if you must go to another room to complete a task.
Also put a stop to empty-room lighting by turning off lights when you leave a room. The next person who enters can find the light switch, and they may even follow your example.
Spend a little extra effort to change your lighting strategy and you will reduce your carbon footprint, while saving considerably on your energy bill as well!