It’s not easy being green.

I have been dying to write those words ever since we launched this site. Now that it’s out of my system, on with the post.

Remember when simply replacing your halogen lightbulbs with compact flourescents (CFLs) was going to save the earth? Many publications, including Wired, jumped on the little ice-cream-cone-shaped-lightbulb-that-could story and for a few brief moments it seemed as if all of our global warming issues were solved. Hell, even Wal-Mart was doing its part to ensure CFLs were affordable for all. (Wal-Mart’s onboard! NOW it mainstream!) Not so fast – it seems those halcyon days (six months ago) are gone. LEDs have already replaced CFLs as the new lightbulb de-rigueur. Plus, simply replacing your lightbulbs isn’t enough – not even close. Watching programs like Living With Ed my eyes tend to glaze over a bit and I wonder if this whole inititative hasn’t gone a bit overboard. Look; I appreciate wanting to save the planet, or at the very least, not contribute further to its ecological demise. But when I read and/or see people building entire houses out of recycled materials I gotta wonder where do these people live and how do they find these things? More importantly, how much are they spending on these materials? I recently read about a house project where the builder went through great lengths to recycle materials during a remodel. They recycled old doors, lumber, hardwood floors, lighting fixtures, etc. All great things. The project even ended up garnering LEED Platinum Certification. Wow – they must have saved a bundle recycling all of those materials, right? Wrong. The house cost $2 million dollars to remodel and it’s currently on the market for $1.3 million Say what? We’re not talking some 6,000 sq. ft. monolith. The house is a two level ranch-style home that’s 2300 sq. ft. Holy *#$% – that’s $869 a sq. ft. to remodel! Who has that kind of money? Not me. If these green initiatives are going to take root it’s going to have to be more affordable for the rest of us. I’m all for going green but not up to the point where it puts me in the red.

So I don’t always sound like the negative nilly here, here are some postive, affordable things we can all do to be more green. Much like replacing even one measly lightbulb in our home with a CFL (or LED) bulb, if enough people adopt even a few of these practices that will go along way towards reducing green house gases repairing the planet. Isn’t that what this whole green movement is all about?

  • Lower your heat by a degree or two during the winter. Conversly, raise the temp by a degree or two in the summer.
  • Stop drinking bottled water; tap is cheaper.
  • Dim your lights 20% (this returns a 40% cost savings on electricity).
  • Flush # 1 every other time (my favorite).
  • Cover your water heater with an insulating jacket for the winter.
  • Grow your own veggies.
  • Walk, bike or carpool to work.

Trust me; I know some of these sound arbitrary, but just think how many cars we could take off the road on a given day if just 1% of the commuting population decided to carpool or walk/bike to work. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference. Remember; there’s strength in numbers.

Posted by: JMH

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2 Responses

  1. […] Posted on November 11, 2008 by castercomm We’ve covered our opinion on CFLs  previously and though we think you can save energy with them they are on tactic not the strategy. […]

  2. Dim the lights to save 40%? Fuggdataboudit!

    CFLs save 75%, (dimmable CFLs save more.)

    LEDs? LEDs SUCK from a luminous efficiency point of view compared to CFLs- they have a long way to go. They’re at best half as efficient, and MANY times the initial cost. CFLs (or better yet, electronically ballasted linear fluorescents, either T8 or high-efficiency T5) are the current price/performance sweet spot.

    Go with CFLs to save 75%…

    …turn ’em off to save 100% 😉 (If you can’t remember for yourself, try occupancy-sensor switches.)

    CFLs represent about the lowest hanging purchased-efficiency-fruit possible. If you can’t bring yourself even go THERE, you’re not gonna get very far. CFLs are a cost-NEGATIVE solution- they save far more in operational costs than the initial purchase price.

    Sure, residential lighting represents only a low double-digit slice of the carbon footprint pie, but to be effective you need to be cost-effective. If you don’t/can’t start with the dead-easy stuff, you’re toast when it comes to the bigger picture. With CFLs you don’t take even the slightest hit in lifestyle.

    If we’re lucky, the price/performance of LEDs will have improved by the time your CFLs burn out, eh? 😉

    Programmable setback thermostats are another low initial cost (even in the short term cost-negative), no-lifestyle-hit solution, amongst others.

    If your refrigerator is more than 15 years old, replacing it is likely to be cost-negative too (how soon depends on your electricity market, but it’s not a single-season payback.)

    If you want to work it from most-cost-effective on down, model your place on http://hes.lbl.gov/ (save the session number so you can always come back to it with the real profile data or actual retrofit costs.) Could be you’re better off spending the $12 on a bucket of duct-mastic than a hot-water heater wrap, but every situation is different. Heating/cooling duct losses are HUGE- well into double-digits on average, and represents as big a slice of the wasted-energy pie than the total hot water heating bill (wasted & used HW energy combined.)

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