Faced with a warming planet, the big question is: what can be done? What can we do as individuals to make a difference, to cut our energy use?
The number thing I know of is to turn down the thermostat. We have to get out of the mindset that we must always feel comfortable. The point is, in the winter, we're supposed to be cold. In the summer, we're supposed to be hot. I'm not saying we get rid of heat and air-conditioning. I'm only saying, we have to think in a more reasonable way, and have to be more connected to the earth we live on. My thinking is if there's not at least some small degree of discomfort when the temperatures are at the extremes, then we're doing something wrong.
With that out of the way, the second thing we can do is to change our light bulbs, and something I didn't realize until recently was the availability of the newest, and to my knowledge, most promising technology available: LED light bulbs. Previously, working as a reporter, I had done a story about CREE, the Durham, NC-based LED light-maker. This was several years back, and at the time, I was told their availability was limited to larger fixtures; in other words, people who own a home and were making long-term investments, or to businesses, for indoor and outdoor fixtures. As a renter, I was disappointed, because I simply wanted to change out my light bulbs with high-efficiency LEDs. Now, in the short time between then and now, that is a possibility.
Why LED over the already efficient swirly compact fluorescent bulbs? Several reasons. First of all, the CFLs are less efficient. For a 60 watt incandescent replacement, the range for CFLs, and I'm approximating here, seems to be around 13 to 18 watts. For an LED, that is down to around the 6-12 range. Second, CFLs contain a small amount of poisonous mercury. While the amount is small, it means that when added up, CFLs that aren't properly disposed of can become a source of dangerous pollution. And CFLs are supposed to be recycled. But how many people will actually do that, when you have to take the bulb to a source that does that recycling? And lastly, CFLs give off small amounts of UV rays. This should not be enough for people to be alarmed. After all, the sun gives off UV too. But we certainly don't want more, and in our homes beaming onto us, say, after we've fallen asleep with the light on. LED light bulbs have none of these concerns.
So LED lights are great, but yes, they are expensive. However, the price is coming down quickly, and in the long-term, they will pay for themselves through lower power bills. I recently bought these bulbs from G7 power on Amazon for about $15 per bulb. I'm very happy with them. They look like regular light bulbs, give off a great amount of light, use only 9 watts, and are supposed to last years longer than both CFLs and incadescent bulbs. I'm not sure why they are not currently available, but that is what's going to happen I guess with a rapidly changing industry. Notice also this horrible review of the same bulb. I include this because they've reviewed a number of LED bulbs, and so that you can make an informed decision about the bulbs. I'm not really sure, even after reading the review, why they warranted a 1 star review, but there you have it. I think they're great. I would encourage people wanting to buy LEDs to do research beyond Amazon reviews, though. The point is: good bulbs exist, they're getting cheaper, and hopefully more is on the way.
I started this diary with the bigger issue of global climate change. This won't solve it, obviously, but it's something each of us can do, and if enough people do this, we can, maybe, slowly, somehow, get moving in the right direction. My purpose in writing this is mainly to alert people to the availability of LED light bulbs, because I wasn't aware of them until recently myself. Any feedback or dialogue of any kind is welcomed. My thought is together we can make small differences that can add up to bigger changes.