Saturday, May 2, 2009

Heating through light : Another reason for using CFLs in your home

Good morning everyone.

With the warmer weather approaching, the time to think about a greener and energy efficient summer is upon us. That is right; it is time to find alternative ways of cooling our homes that won’t leave an insane carbon footprint on the world. So while I was reading back issues of Green Living magazine, I found an article by Mary Teresa Bitti that was published last summer entitled “Cool it : 7 ways to chill without warming the planet” that had a lot of good ideas like :

  • Getting rid of the air conditioning units (or if simply cannot live without them, go for Energy Star rated ones)
  • Using ceiling and floor fans that use up a fraction of the energy to run.
  • Closing windows drapes and blinds during the warmer days and opening them up at night.
  • Create patterns of cross-ventilation by strategically opening and closing specific windows to create “wind paths” in your home.
  • Make sure your insulation in your attic and basement doesn’t have any gaps and holes so that the cool air stays inside your home.
  • Add natural shade to your yard and home by planting trees or by not removing too much of the natural canopy that will provide your home with cooling shade.

All great ideas! But you are probably thinking “there are only 6 tips there!” That is because I wanted to talk more in depth about one of them that surprised me and intrigued me more than the others :

  • Replace all you incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)!

Did you know that more than 90% of the electricity used to power a traditional bulb is lost through heat?

According to Natural Resources Canada, only 4 to 6 % of the energy used to power a traditional bulb goes towards producing visible light. Which means everyone of your old traditional bulbs that is glowing is not only using up a lot of energy, creating more waste buy having a shorter life span, but is also heating your home when you are desperately trying to keep it cool! CFLs produce 75% less heat when lit up.

So as an extra green step to a cooler home this summer, if you hadn’t already made the switch, replace your old traditional bulbs with CFLs.

Thank for reading!

What will you do to lower your carbon footprint this summer?


Evita said...

Excellent Tips Yannic, thank you for sharing.

Hmmm, I am not sure what we are going to do, we have already changed all our lightbulbs, live pretty much at zero-waste, stopped watering our lawn, in fact we took out all of the grass in the front and replaced it with maintenance free landscaping, don't cut our lawn in the back and I am sure a few more things which I cannot think of at the moment....

The next step we would like would be solar panels, but I am afraid that will have to wait somewhat ;)

Sinclair said...

I am reluctant to switch to these bulbs because of the way they have to be recycled/disposed of. They contain mercury and cannot go in the regular trash. I don't think most people know this, and a large number of people will trash bin them anyway.

They cannot go in the regular recycling bin because those recyclers are not equipped to handle them.

If you break one in your home, it can be hazardous to your health and very difficult to clean up.

So, like the big bag of batteries I have that can only be disposed of a few times a year, I would now have a big bag of toxic light bulbs.

I am sorry, but I am not for these bulbs.

Yanic said...

Evita - I know what you mean... I would love to get solar panels when we buy our home, but don't know if we will be able to do it right away. I know the investment is worth it, but that first chunk of cash is always the big one! In the mean time, we must do what we must do...
Thanks for reading!

Sinclair - I know they are not readily disposable. But luckily, Home Depots and Lowes hardware stores are pretty common and you can dispose of them there at any time.
But I value your point of view. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Just so you know tough, I think I read somewhere that the US will be stopping the sale of incandescent bulbs in a few years. I know that in Canada, it's 2012. The US was suppose to be following in something like 2014 or 2015... I will try and find the source again and post it.

Again, thank you both for taking the time to read my blog.


Small Footprints said...

Excellent post (as always).

I have another idea to add to your list ... turn off computer monitors (and computers) when not in use. It's amazing how much heat radiates off the top of a monitor ... so, even if one doesn't want to turn off the computer, try turning off the monitor. Just that one little action lowered the temperature in our office to ... comfortable ... without air conditioning!

Regarding CFLs ... perhaps we could all pass the word that they are easily recycled at Home Depot and Lowe's. And rechargeable batteries can be taken to the same places that recycle cell phones. Perhaps if we all pass the word, people won't "trash" them.

Take Care!

Small Footprints

Anonymous said...

Another good idea is installing a programmable thermostat. It is surprising how simple it is to install a programmable thermostat. The economical and ecological benefits are worth the switch.

Programmable Thermostats Fanimation Ceiling Fans Space Gard Furnace Filter

Yanic said...

Small Footprints : Great tip about the computer monitors. Never even thought of it. I usually turn it off but many don't. I think I will start passing that around at my work!

As for the "spreading the word", check out my following post : Where to dispose of CFLs, cell phones and batteries properly - a follow-up

Yanic said...

Aaron : Welcome to my blog! Hope you'll come back and keep posting. I love hearing from new readers! The programmable thermostats are definitely a great idea. People should check with their power company and local governments. I know that Hydro Quebec here has a program where they will give you a credit on your electricity bill for installing them!

Thomas said...

Good tips. I'd like to add to the planting-trees-to-get-shade one: If you live in a climate that has both cold winters and hot summers, deciduous trees are ideal to provide that shade. In the summertime, they'll have leaves to provide shade. In the wintertime, when you need all the solar heat you can get, their leaves are gone and lets most of the sunlight through to heat your home.
Renewables At Home

Thomas said...

I partly share Sinclair's concerns about the mercury content in CFLs. However, I've still bought quite a few of them and installed them in my lamps, for the following reasons:

1. If you break one, it will probably be while you're changing bulbs. Since CFLs last for much, much longer (ten times longer or more) than regular incandescents, you won't have to do this for years to come. I installed most of my CFLs about six years ago, and they're still going as strong as ever. Be extra careful when you are installing them, and you'll be fine.
2. CFLs contain relatively little mercury seen in a direct health context. If you do break one, air the room out at once - leave the windows open for at least 15 minutes - and clean up any residue that hasn't evaporated (make sure you put it in an airtight container).
3. Swearing CFLs completely off just in case you break one seems a bit extreme. If you're careful, you probably won't break one. And although many people might not know how to dispose of used ones properly, you do. So your bulbs won't be causing any mercury pollution. If you educate the people around you about the CFL mercury content and proper disposal options, chances are their bulbs won't, either.

As my CFL bulbs finally give in, though, I'll probably replace them with LED bulbs. They don't contain any mercury and use even less energy than CFLs. Although they do have their disadvantages at present time, a lot of research is being done to improve them. My guess is they'll be a lot better in a few years time. I recently wrote a post on my blog about them: Giving LED light bulbs a test run.

Yanic said...

Thomas - Wow! Great info! Thank you for that. Great tips on how to be safe with our FLs. I will deifnitely take a look at your article on LEDs, you've got me very curious about them.

As for Trees. In winter, shrubs around your house are good too. Protects the foundation of the house and helps insulate it.

Thanks so much for stopping by.