Make the Switch!

Make the Switch!

How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? Just kidding, but saving the planet, one step at a time, really can be as simple as changing a light bulb. Advances in the technology of lighting have given us the option of buying bulbs that are far more energy efficient than those of just a few years ago. A compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) uses 60 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, saves about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year (“reduce your impact”), cuts lighting costs by 75 percent, and lasts at least eight times longer. That’s the power of changing just one light bulb.

Incandescent bulbs are indisputably wasteful – 95 percent of the power used to light them is wasted as heat. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs in most hardware stores or online from the Energy Federation.

In addition to using CFLs to conserve light energy, look around your home for opportunities to “harvest” daylight. The easiest, yet most energy-efficient green change you can make is to turn off the lights. How often do you have both the ceiling light and desk or end-table light turned on? Flick the switch on one of them. How often do you turn on the room light even when there’s enough daylight to guide the way? How often do you turn on the light and then walk out of the room, forgetting to turn the light off? When you start paying attention to your use of electricity for lighting, you’ll find that like most of us, you probably have a few bad habits to break.

We can also look for ways to increase our use of natural light. Open the blinds, pull back the curtains, let the light in! (Close those drapes again at night to reduce heat loss.) Strategically place decorative wall mirrors so they reflect daylight into the room. If remodeling, install larger windows and skylights.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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