Archive for the 'Environment' Category

Change A Light, Change The World!

October 3, 2007


Greendaily reports that the ‘Change a light‘ campaign by the Energy Star program starts a bus tour today, which will start in Anaheim and end up in New York City 20 days from today. Change a light is a campaign that requests one to pledge to change at least one light with a compact fluorescent light bulb. The campaign already has crossed 900,000 pledges. The bus tour will stop at 10 cities, and at each stop, EPA and its partners will hand out retail certificates for light bulbs and set up an education center, complete with a bicycle that powers two light bulbs. Visitors can ride the bike and switch out CFLs for incandescents to experience how much more pedaling energy it takes to turn on the two old-fashioned bulbs.

I am big fan of CFL’s, and replaced over 90% of our incandescent bulbs with CFL’s when we moved into our new home in 2005. The only bulbs that I haven’t replaced are the recessed lighting over our fireplace and a few other places.

Fluorescent bulbs create light by exciting mercury atoms with a couple of electrodes. The excited mercury atoms produce ultraviolet light, which is converted into visible light by the phosphor coating inside the bulb’s surface. This mechanism is roughly 75% energy efficient than normal lights, which create visible light through heat.

One safety hazard with CFL’s is the mercury, which may become exposed if a CFL breaks. EPA has some instructions to clean mercury spills caused by broken CFL’s. The main point is NOT to vacuum the broken pieces, but just sweep them up. Another disadvantage is the warm-up time, which is about a minute of perceivable difference in brightness in my case. But I think the benefits far outweigh these concerns.