Topping practically every eco-friendly to-do list is the suggestion to change from regular lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in your home and office. In my desperate attempt to green-up our family and walk a little more gently on the earth, I did just that. I started forking out the extra money at Lowe’s (roughly $3 per bulb, compared to $.30 per bulb for regular lights) to purchase compact fluorescent “swirl” lights for every socket in our home. I felt pretty good about this, but in the back of my head I wondered “really, is this making much of a difference? Could something so simple change the world?”
Then a friend sent this article from FastCompany, and I’m feeling like a freakin’ environmental hero! The following stats should have you running, not walking, to the store to buy up these bulbs:
“Compact fluorescents emit the same light as classic incandescents but use 75% or 80% less electricity.
What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
That’s the law of large numbers–a small action, multiplied by 110 million.
The single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States is power plants–half our electricity comes from coal plants. One bulb swapped out: enough electricity saved to turn off two entire power plants–or skip building the next two.
Just one swirl per home. The typical U.S. house has between 50 and 100 “sockets” (astonish yourself: Go count the bulbs in your house). So what if we all bought and installed two ice-cream-cone bulbs? Five? Fifteen?”
Says David Goldstein, a PhD physicist, MacArthur “genius” fellow, and senior energy scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council: “This could be just what the world’s been waiting for, for the last 20 years.”
–FastCompany, September 2006
Oprah’s on board, using and promoting CFL’s, and you know Al Gore wants you to buy them. Hell, Leonardo DiCaprio makes them look downright sexy. Even WalMart is pricing them low to encourage everyone to make the switch. All of the “cool” kids are doing it. What are you waiting for?