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:
- Replaced all 15 windows with energy-saving vinyl windows (well, yes, that one was extraordinarily expensive)
- Separates and recycles paper, plastic, glass and metal
- Saves up dead batteries and empty printer cartridges to take to recycling centers
- ditto broken/old electrical appliances
- Keeps the thermostat for her oil burner at 67 during the day and 59 at night
- Permanently turned off two of six radiators
- 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
- Weatherized exterior doors
- Does not own or use air conditioners (the Maine climate helps)
- Does laundry only with full loads and uses cold water
- Runs the dishwasher only once every week or 10 days (Crabby owns a lot of dishes) and lets them air dry
- Combines errands to drive less frequently; walks when possible
- Uses power strips to turn off “always-on” appliances where possible
- Unplugs small kitchen appliances when not in use
- 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:
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.]