Day Three: Replace your incandescent bulbs with
compact fluorescent bulbs.
How many light bulbs does it take to change the
The US government's Energy Star program says that
if every household in the nation replaced ONE
incandescent light with a compact fluorescent
(hereafter "CFs") bulb, it would prevent enough
pollution to equal removing one MILLION
automobiles from the roads.
CFs use 66% less energy than standard
incandescents, and last as much as ten times
longer. But they give as much light as
incandescents. (I have compact fluorescent bulbs
that I installed in the year 2000 that are still
CFs are cool to the touch, because they are not
wasting energy making heat.
Light energy is measured in "lumens", and the
package of the CF bulb will say how many lumens it
produces. A 100 watt incandescent is generally
about 1600 lumens. A 60 watt incandescent is
about 800 lumens. A CF bulb that produces 1600
lumens, the equivalent of a 100 watt bulb, will
only burn about 22-25 Watts of electricity (the
100 watt incandescent is burning 100 watts). So
figure a 75% reduction in energy use for lighting
when you switch to CF bulbs.
You can get a variety of shades of white in the
light produced by CFs:
Warm white -- 2700 Kelvin) very similar to
incandescent bulb light,
Soft white -- 3500 K, yellowish-white light,
Cool white -- 4100 K, more pure white
Daylight -- 6400 K, slightly bluish-white
The Kelvin scale is used to describe the colors of
light. The higher the number, the "cooler" the
light (that is, the more it is shaded with blue).
The bulbs do contain a minute amount of mercury,
but they also reduce the amount of mercury emitted
into the atmosphere by coal generating plants. I
have had a few CFs go out on me, I took those with
me on my regular trip to the Oklahoma City
Hazardous Waste collection center and they
If you have no experience with CFs, I suggest that
you buy a variety of bulbs with different color
shades to their lights, and decide what works best
for you. Generally I like the small "spiral"
bulbs that have a blue-ish white light, but in my
office, I have a brighter, more yellow light.
If you don't find something you like at a local
store, there is a very large array of CFs lights
available on the Internet, including colors (red,
green, pink, yellow) and black-lights.
People sometimes say, "Don't use them in places
where you turn the light on and off a lot, such as
your closets." We use them everywhere, however,
including our closets, and they work just fine.
We also use them outside, although there is one
caveat about that: In cold weather they take
longer to warm up.
How many light bulbs does it take to change your