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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Green" Light Special

We’ve decided it is time for us to embrace a more ‘green’ lifestyle – both for the economical reasons and for the ecological reasons too.
Light bulbs are an example where both reasons come into play.  We well realized that incandescent and halogen bulbs are not a good choice except for the fact they are convenient.  Screw it in and flip the switch for instant bright light.  Expensive, hot bright light.
We decided it was time for a change.  But to what?  The choices are between CFL (compact fluorescent lights) and LED (light emitting diodes).  Time for a bit of research so to make the best choice as there are pros and cons to both.
CFL light bulbs PRO:  they are cool burning light, they last longer than incandescent, they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent use 50 - 80% less energy than incandescent.  
CFL CON:  they are sensitive to frequent on/off cycling. Their rated lifetimes of 10,000 hours are reduced in applications where the light is switched on and off very often (like a closet), they need to be on at least 15 minutes, they take longer than other lights to become fully lit, and you have to buy special CFL to use on a dimmer switch, they might not fit into lamps with a small/shallow area for a bulb. 
And the biggest con… All Fluorescent Lamps and Tubes Should Be Recycled or Disposed as Hazardous Waste due to their mercury content.  That means you do NOT throw them in your household trash.  Lowes, Home Depot, and IKEA accept CFL bulbs for recycling…but it varies store by store if they will accept the long tubes. 
And if you break one remember that there is mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs: 
- open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more (mercury can be breathed in) 
-put on gloves to clean up (mercury can be absorbed thru the skin)
- use a wet rag to clean it up and put all of the pieces, and the rag, into a plastic bag
- place all materials in a second sealed plastic bag 
Another thing, those big florescent tubes (T12) are no longer being made.  “This July, U.S. lighting manufacturers will cease production of many T12 lamps in order to comply with Department of Energy (DOE) regulations. First announced in 2010, the DOE planned to phase out magnetic ballasts used in T12 lamps in favor of more energy-efficient T8 and T5 lamps.”  
That means those of us with florescent tube lights in our homes, basements, shops, and garages will soon have to buy all new light fixtures and make repairs to our ceilings from those replacements.  The smaller T8 and T5 bulbs do not fit in the T12 fixtures.
The other choice in efficient lighting is LED bulbs.  I’m still not totally clear on how they work but I do know that there is nothing ‘burning’ – filament or gases as in the incandescent and CFL.  So they don’t really ‘burn out’ or fail.  What happens to them is that they get dimmer over time. 
LED light PRO: they last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, they are very durable, cool to use so the room does not heat up with use, no mercury, they use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL).  Because of their extremely long life, they are excellent choices for areas that are hard to replace bulbs. 
LED light CON:  they cost $24 to about $36 per bulb (!!!!).  One report I read states there is development of a cheaper LED that in a few years should bring them down to roughly the cost of a CFL bulb.  Also, they are very directional in their light and aren’t a good fit for general lighting (like a table lamp). 
I made our first change because of our can lighting.  I really worried about the heat build-up and the possibility of an attic fire.  Because we have a LOT of can lights I went with the CFL spot lights.  It would have cost $500 plus to replace all of them.  
My next changes were in a couple of light fixtures.  They were made for halogen lights but were way too hot; one actually made the fixture ‘crackle’ and the other made Himself’s small office hot.  Any time I get a good coupon or find a sale, I snatch up bulbs to replace (still need 2 more for his office).  
I’ve tried putting CFL bulbs into most of my lamps, but have several that the bulbs are just too large to fit within the space allowed.  And Himself doesn’t want CFL in his personal lamps because he doesn’t like the ‘warm up’ time.  When he wants light, he wants it now.  
To handle the issue of disposal of the florescent bulbs, I’ve put a special collection area in my recycling center to handle them.  I hope to soon have all the light bulbs in my home switched over to green light.

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