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Efficiency is Patriotic

24 April 2008

While the American public may still be considering switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, the military isn’t hesitating. Operation Change Out, a joint effort of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, is the very first national, military-focused campaign on energy efficiency and conservation.

“These energy savings could not come at a better time,” [Energy Secretary Sam] Bodman said. “Energy demand is increasing rapidly here in the U.S. and around the world as are energy prices. And these demand pressures will only increase with time.” Link

Changing just one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent in every on-base housing unit in the U.S. would save nearly $7 million in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulbs – enough money to purchase more than a dozen mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles. Efficiency is patriotic – learn how to do your part with the Minnesota Energy Challenge.

:: Reuters, EnergyStar

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 April 2008 4:12 pm

    As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result.

  2. 28 April 2008 7:11 am

    Rudy, I understand your worries. However, as I have written extensively in this blog, the amount of mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs is already very low – only four milligrams, whereas a watch battery contains 25 milligrams, and some dental fillings which contain as much as 500 milligrams. If a compact fluorescent breaks in someone’s home, it does not create a “challenging” disposal situation – simply a situation where one must take a respectable amount of caution. Do not handle broken pieces with your bare hands, do not lick the floor where it broke, you will be okay.

    It is true, however that too many people are unaware that CFLs must be recycled and and throwing them in the trash. Consumers should write CFLs manufacturers and EnergyStar to beg them to improve the labeling on packaging and start more visible recycling programs. At every event I personally go to and every time I talk about CFLs, I include information on how to recycle them.

  3. Kristina Richardson permalink
    5 June 2008 11:26 am

    Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.

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