September 26, 2006

Turn the Light On!

A friend of mine sent me the following e-mail as a sort of grassroots effort to motivate people to purchase Compact Flourescent bulbs for their homes, etc. **Disclaimer - I did not verify his numbers, facts, etc., however I have heard this sort of information from multiple sources and do believe in the abilities of CF bulbs to lessen our use of electricity.

How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take To Change The World? ONE.

For years, compact fluorescent bulbs have promised dramatic energysavings - yet they remain a mere curiosity. 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 or is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars of 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. One bulb swapped out: enough electricity saved to turn off two entire power plants - or skip building the next two. The typical U.S. house has between 50 and 100 sockets. Last year, U.S. consumers spent about $1 billion to buy 2 billion light bulbs - 5.5 million every day. Just 5%, 100 million, were compact fluorescents. The compact fluorescents that GE, Philips, and Sylvania are putting on shelves are rated for 8,000, 10,000 or 12,000 hours. Every CFL has the life span of 6, or 8, or 10 equivalent incandescent bulbs. If 100 million CFL light bulbs are sold next year, it does away with the need for 100 million old-fashioned bulbs to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, bought and discarded next year - and every year until 2012 or beyond. It also promises that a 60-watt CFL saves $38.00 in energy. Spend $2.60 (or less), earn $38.00. These days, that's a great return.

To read more, this article can be found in Fast Company, September 2006.

Additionally, Grist published readers questions about CFL lights at: and