ELDER MUSIC: Johnny Mercer
The Coming Attack on Social Security

Being Green and CFLs

Unlike some of our politicians, Crabby Old Lady believes that Earth’s environment is deteriorating due to mankind’s reckless behavior – lack of good stewardship, if you will. Since Earth is the only planet we’ve got, it behooves us to clean up our act and every person needs to do his or her part.

Although we can, collectively, vote for green-leaning politicians and boycott the products of corporations that pollute, there is not much we can do individually on a large scale. That must be left to lawmakers and their enforcers. Still, there are many things individuals can do and if everyone is diligent, much can be accomplished. Even one light bulb per person, for example, and just in the U.S., equals 300 million light bulbs.

It’s amazing how much we can all do without much effort or cost. Among Crabby Old Lady’s contributions:

  1. Replaced all 15 windows with energy-saving vinyl windows (well, yes, that one was extraordinarily expensive)

  2. Separates and recycles paper, plastic, glass and metal

  3. Saves up dead batteries and empty printer cartridges to take to recycling centers

  4. ditto broken/old electrical appliances

  5. Keeps the thermostat for her oil burner at 67 during the day and 59 at night

  6. Permanently turned off two of six radiators

  7. Turned off the six-foot, electric baseboard heater in her laundry room and uses a smaller, space heater set to 55 degrees to keep pipes from freezing

  8. Weatherized exterior doors

  9. Does not own or use air conditioners (the Maine climate helps)

  10. Does laundry only with full loads and uses cold water

  11. Runs the dishwasher only once every week or 10 days (Crabby owns a lot of dishes) and lets them air dry

  12. Combines errands to drive less frequently; walks when possible

  13. Uses power strips to turn off “always-on” appliances where possible

  14. Unplugs small kitchen appliances when not in use

  15. Is fanatical about turning out lights when she leaves a room

These moves are not only Crabby’s contribution to the environment, they have saved her a good deal of money. Her heating oil consumption is down about 20 percent this winter and the winter electric bill, due to not using the baseboard heater in the laundry room, is down 30-35 percent.

Crabby would love to build a green house or retrofit the one she has, but neither is within her financial means. Nor is a hybrid or other greener vehicle at this time. When a new car becomes necessary (many years down the road, she hopes), she will buy the most environmentally clean car she can afford.

However. Following on Crabby’s complaint last week about CFL light bulbs and readers’ many thoughts on her difficulties with them, Crabby has concluded that light bulbs are a problem in need of a better or different solution.

Oddly, on the day Crabby complained about CFLs, a London friend, Sophy Merrick, ran across this cartoon in a local paper:

Cartoon

If it’s too small to see, the sign reads "Energy Efficient Light Bulbs" and the bubble reads:

“Some ugly light bulbs that will look terrible in your light fittings and mean you’ll have to throw all your dimmer switches away, you say? Let me think.”

Crabby has been thinking: the fact that CFLs are ugly and the light output is both unattractive and difficult to read by isn’t much of an excuse when the health of our only planet is at stake. But it is evident to Crabby Old Lady that CFLs are not ready for prime time. There are too many problems that advocates, manufacturers and maybe science itself haven’t worked through yet.

First, as far as Crabby can determine, a whole lot of light bulbs are unavailable as CFLs:

  • oven lights

  • refrigerator lights

  • halogen lights

  • small lights that fit under-the-cupboard fixtures

  • three-way bulbs which Crabby actually uses at their different settings

As Crabby noted last week, all the CFLs she installed at different times over the past year have burned out – some sooner than others. All the incandescent bulbs were still burning after a year or more when she replaced them.

Even if dimmer switches are to blame for the CFL failures as some TGB readers suggested (they don’t dim CFLs anyway), the three that collectively control various ceiling lights in Crabby’s home will not be replaced any time soon. Crabby doesn’t do electric. She doesn’t have a husband who does. And hey, all you greenies, we’re in a deep recession and Crabby is not prepared to pay electrician rates unless it is to correct something dangerous.

All the people who are so gung-ho for switching to CFLs think it’s oh, so easy. Maybe it is if you’re six feet tall and young. But, there are about a dozen ceiling lights in Crabby’s home. Her ceilings are nine feet above the floor. The ladder she owns doesn’t allow her to reach that high and there is no place to store a bigger one.

She tried once to change a ceiling light on her own, standing on tippy-toe on the top step of the ladder - and fell off. She’s not willing to risk a broken leg or back again and it’s not easy finding a tall-enough neighbor to help at a time that is convenient to both.

Crabby Old Lady makes a willing effort to do her part to save the planet, but as for CFLs, screw it (pun not intended). Crabby’s going back to incandescents until affordable LEDs come along.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Elaine Frankonis explains why she was No Charm School Charmer.]

Comments

I hear you Ronnie :)but, I gotta' tell ya', some days it really ticks me off when I have to lower the heat (especially)& turn off the lights since I have been doing this forever.......my dad's favorite line: when not in use turn off the juice! Anyway, you'd think after all these many years, we'd be able to loosen up a bit & use some of that energy we "saved" all these years! My only consolation is that so many of us depression & post-depression people are doing the same thing. Glad to see you today, Crabby! Dee

1. The personal info in the "Post a comment" folder appeared and I am trying it out.

2. The SD Port District will be replacing all our windows under a noise abatement procedure....we live under a flight path. They are also giving us a heater and air conditioner. We are never supposed to open our doors or windows again. Unless the weather gets into the 90's, we will continue to open the doors and windows year round.

3. Yes, walk, yes, take public transportation......here transfers have been eliminated, and one must pay full fare each new leg of a trip or buy a day pass for 5 bucks.

But 13......yes, mam.....I am heading out to errand and will get power strips today. 6. Don't use heat as it is now up to 125+ a day. 10., 12., 14., 15., yes. 13......no. I wash when the dishwasher is full, and we use the heat cycle. Our common colds have almost disappeared.

Now I will copy this note and save it in case the whole thing vanishes when I click on Post.

Note 2. It posted the note, but the note itself didn't vanish from the comment box. I'll take that.

#3......and none showed up. Ah well.

1. The personal info in the "Post a comment" folder appeared and I am trying it out.

2. The SD Port District will be replacing all our windows under a noise abatement procedure....we live under a flight path. They are also giving us a heater and air conditioner. We are never supposed to open our doors or windows again. Unless the weather gets into the 90's, we will continue to open the doors and windows year round.

3. Yes, walk, yes, take public transportation......here transfers have been eliminated, and one must pay full fare each new leg of a trip or buy a day pass for 5 bucks.

But 13......yes, mam.....I am heading out to errand and will get power strips today. 6. Don't use heat as it is now up to 125+ a day. 10., 12., 14., 15., yes. 13......no. I wash when the dishwasher is full, and we use the heat cycle. Our common colds have almost disappeared.

Now I will copy this note and save it in case the whole thing vanishes when I click on Post.

Posted by: Mage Bailey on Feb 23, 2009 9:06:31 AM

Note 2. It posted the note, but the note itself didn't vanish from the comment box. I'll take that.

Posted by: Mage Bailey on Feb 23, 2009 9:07:40 AM

We have done several of the things suggested. We unplug small appliances. Our TV, computers, vcr/dvd player and cable box are all on power strips as are my iron and sewing machine. The strip is off when when we go to bed or, in the case of the sewing machine, when not in use. We were surprised when we was a noticeable difference in our bill. Not a lot, but, hey, it mounts up. We have been shifting to cfl bulbs slowly as the old ones burn out. We have had some difficulty with the available 3-way bulbs. They simply don't perform as well nor are they as bright as the incandescent bulbs were. Also they are the only ones that have burnt out. The other bulbs, many of which have been in place almost a year, are doing well.

There is no doubt that mankind has damaged our environmet. Now are we wise enough to begin to respect it ? There is the rub...

I don't know how you can take having your heat that low. Since mr. kenju's stroke, he has to have more warmth than before, and more clothing is not always the answer.

I hate those light bulbs, but I use them in places where they are not used for reading.

Re: CFL's. I heard somewhere that their "long life" depends upon the number of times they're turned on and off. How's that for energy efficiency?

I have CFI bulbs in most of my lamps. So far only one has burned out. One is over three years old and that lamp is on every night until I go to bed. I don't understand why yours are burning out so fast, Ronni. I have one in my outside light and it is on all night and hasn't burned out.

I live where the temp can reach 110 degrees and I am not about to eliminate the air conditioner because I would be eliminated along with it. I am not energy efficient with heat either. These old bones suffer at 67 and my thermostat is set at 72 in the daytime and 65 at night.

I'm with you on the CFL bulbs. I once read an article about the safety steps to take if one of them would break. Clear the room, wear gloves to clean up, open windows, etc. What? It is because of a heavy metal releasing into the air. Mercury? I can't remember.

And if they burn out, getting rid of them is hard, at least where I live.

I applaud you for your energy reduction. You are further along than we are.

Yes, I'm with you on all of this. So far no negative CFL moments. But, as someone crazed enough to compost inside my apartment for six years, I refrained from suggesting you do the same.

Why, because individuals living with red wiggler worms (and I really, really enjoyed it) will not solve our country's garbage problem. As with other environmental areas (why did our government NOT decide to take a position on fuel efficient cars), the U.S. needs an overall Green Plan. People like you, me, and all the Elderbloggers of good will cannot solve these problems by ourselves.

Stepping down from soapbox, I add that your efforts are awesome and have to see what plugs can be pulled out on kitchen counter. Thanks again!

Gee... I really like my CFL bulbs. I was replacing regular bulbs frequently in my bathrooms and in my living room fixtures, but the CFL's have so far lasted over a year and show no sign of burning out.

Ronni: Congrats on doing what you do. As time goes on and more and more folks take steps to reduce consumption and waste things will get better. The only bright side of our current financial mess is that people may buy less stuff, hold onto items longer and pay attention to the water, gas and electric meters.

As to the supposed long life CFLs, we use them outside on porch and garage lights and for mood lighting. They do not really work well for reading.

Rich

Here in SC, I can do without too much heat, but air conditioning is a necessity!

There is a great new documentary film out, with limitied circulation now, called FUEL, about the realities of alternative energy. Did you know the first diesel engine was powered by agricultural products, not oil? If you can, go see it; or, urge your local theatre to show the film.

I started switching to CFL bulbs but have run into a number of issues too 1) they DO burn out despite what the packaging says 2) I'd heard something about not just throwing broken CFL bulbs in the trash, but when I actually broke one and googled for the EPA cleanup guidelines, it totally freaked me out! http://www.epa.state.oh.us/pic/cfl_info.html That's scary! and 3) they don't fit into most of my lamps. That is to say, I can screw them in but the lampshade won't fit over the new bulb design.

I'm currently using a mix but finding CFL bulbs definitely sub-optimal.

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