by Stuart Lieberman
Here is a great way to accomplish
a lot of good with very minimal effort.
Buy new light bulbs. Not just any
light bulbs will do. You need to buy
compact flourescent light bulbs.
These bulbs are readily available
at most large retail chains, hardware
stores and home improvement centers.
Also, some utility providers may sell
them at discounted prices.
The good news about these bulbs is
that they cost much less to use than
traditional incandescent bulbs because
they require much less energy for
light production. Also, since less
energy is required, the need for energy
production is reduced, which means
that the bulbs are less taxing on
The bad news is that the bulbs have
a mangled pitchfork look that some
people may not appreciate. Since the
bulbs have a distinct appearance,
homeowners may not want to use them
in more visible locations.
Also, some reports have suggested
that manufacturers tend to overstate
the light production generated by
compact fluorescent bulbs. If light
output is a real concern at a particular
location, you might wish to purchase
a compact bulb with an advertised
higher light output than you think
you really need for the spot.
I suggest that you begin a light
bulb replacement program. Don't replace
every bulb at one time. Rather, begin
with the bulbs that are most frequently
used. For example, you might want
to start with outdoor porch lights,
hallway lights, and central room lighting
fixtures. Then, gradually replace
other bulbs when they burn out.
According to a study by "Wattwatchers,"
a research group at the University
of Texas, the amount of energy wasted
by incandescent light bulbs is substantial.
Quite startlingly, only 10 percent
of the energy consumed by an incandescent
bulb actually produces light. The
remaining 90 percent generates heat,
that is wasted. If you doubt this,
try touching an incandescent bulb
that has been on for a short while.
In contrast, compact fluorescent
bulbs use nearly all of the consumed
energy for light production. This
is why you can touch a fluorescent
bulb after it has been in use for
These newer bulbs cost more than
the tradition bulbs, generally $10-
$15 per bulb, but usually pay for
themselves in one year and last several
years. According to Wattwatchers,
homeowners may save about $57 per
year for every 10,000 hours in which
a compact fluorescent bulb has been
in use rather than a standard incandescent
For several years, the federal Department
of Energy has actively promoted these
bulbs for commercial and residential
use. According to one of its studies,
homeowners can save 35% in lighting
costs if they make the switch. Indeed,
the DOE has recently embarked on a
program to convert bulbs used in its
Washington headquarters to compact
Many state governments also have
laws and programs which require state
office buildings to take similar measures
to reduce energy savings and lighting
costs. In addition, some utilities
offer cash savings to customers purchasing
these bulbs. For example, the Interstate
Power Company in Iowa had a $7.00
per bulb cash program. In New Jersey,
Public Service Electric & Gas
sold the bulbs at discounted rates
in one recent promotion.
If your utility has not done anything
to promote light bulb replacements,
call and complain. Utilities are often
given incentives to reduce energy
consumption in their service areas.
There is no question that a bulb replacement
program is one efficient way to accomplish