Go Green Or Go Home, Part I

Last modified on May 26th, 2008

As most of you remember, last year I threw the environmental gauntlet down and challenged all my readers to replace their old, energy inefficient incandescent light-bulbs with the newer CFL variant. Many of my friends and readers quickly went to work and replaced many of the bulbs in their houses, some even going as far to replace every single one. I replaced most of the ones in my apartment, and probably save on average of about 0.3kWh every day in my place alone.

I actually started a Flickr group for this purpose last year to help motivate people. I was a bit surprised to go into it tonight and see people still adding photos into it.

The first thing I’d like to do is re-open last year’s challenge. CFL light-bulbs are energy efficient, and reduce the energy requirements per light-bulb by approximately 75%. That means a typical 60W light bulb will run around 15-17W while giving out the same amount of light. By replacing most incandescent light-bulbs in your home with CFL versions you will, on average, reduce CO2 emissions by 500 lbs in a given year. Just for one household.

So, here’s the official challenge:

  • Walk around your house and make a list of incandescent light-bulbs that you can replace
  • Go to the store and pick up CFL (compact florescent lights) versions that have the same output as the versions you are replacing (if you have a dimmer light, you’ll need a special CFL bulb, so be careful about that
  • Replace your lights, and feel really good about it!
  • Come back here and leave a comment telling me how many lights you replaced and what the wattages were
  • If you have a camera, then post some photographic proof into the CFL lightbulb challenge Flickr group. Also, become a member and watch what others are doing

Instead of just doing this for fun, I’m going to make this an official competition this year. That means not only is there going to be a few winners, but there are also going to be prizes. You’ll be judged based on a) whether or not you spread the word about this, either by a blog or some other means (be creative – you’ll get points not just for you, but for others you inspire as well) b) how much energy you reduce on a permanent basis and c) other green initiatives that I’ll bring up later. If you do anything that you think is environmentally friendly, please let me know via a comment and I’ll factor it in somehow. I’ll probably normalize everything to global CO2 reductions and tally it all that way.

I’m going to be creating a leaderboard once things get rolling, and you’ll be able to see, via my blog, who the big winners are on a daily basis. I’m going to trust that nobody will cheat, since this is an important cause, and we’re all adults. Photographic proof of changes is always nice, but I’ll take your word for it if you say you implemented something. Also, if you heard about the challenge via someone else (or their blog), let me know that as well, and I’ll count some of your contributions towards their final score.

In terms of prizes, I’m going to try and make them as big as possible by approaching some people in Vancouver. If you can donate something of value (> $50), then please drop me an email and let me know, or forward this entry onto others who might be able to.

So get to it and change those bulbs! I’ll set a tentative end date for this competition as June 30th.

8 responses to “Go Green Or Go Home, Part I”

  1. John says:

    All the light bulbs in our home are CFL’s. I am pretty big on this, more so because of my love for the white light you get from them, and that also becomes important in the winter because white light helps to improve mood and combat seasonal depression. Saving energy is pretty sweet, too.

    Another thing you should promote with this is changing your standard flashlights to LED. The light can be brighter, but they also last a lot longer. Could be important in times of need like an earthquake or power outages. I have an LED flashlight that I haven’t changed the AA batteries on in two or three years, and it will come camping with us this summer.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Good idea John — for those of you competing, feel free to send me anything you think is relevant and I’ll find a way to factor it into the result.

  3. Eva says:

    Gaah! In my old condo, I had changed all the ceiling light fixtures (except for the ones on dimmers) and one floor lamp from incandescent to CFL’s.
    In the new places I still need to figure out what kind of bulbs each light fixture is using! :p Some are halogen and some of them use some “funny” bulb (i.e., to be determined). And the potlights! What to do with those??

  4. Andrea_R says:

    We just changed one last night. 🙂 Most of them are done in our house, but there’s a few bulbs that weren’t burnt out that we replace as needed, at this point.

    The other big thing we did over the winter was install a pellet stove and not use the oil furnace. Not only was it way cheaper, it uses hardly any energy to run (just enough for a fan), it’s an easily renewable product and I think the pellets can even be made from wood industry waste (sawdust) and it burns way clean, due to the way the stoves are constructed. The small chimney goes right out the side of the house and you can stand quite near it when it’s running.

    We’ve also composted our food for ages. It’s pretty much ingrained at this point. So is recylcing, althouhg I’m not impressed we have to drive the stuff instead of get it picked up at the curb (although maybe a trip for us is less emmisions that a garbage truck. Hmmm). I’ve noticed that the biggest amount of recycleable we collect is cardboard.

    This results in each week us putting out one black garbage bag to the curb each week, for a family of five.

  5. John – even better than replacing standard bulbs in your flashlights would be getting a ‘shaker’ flashlight. Well maybe not better, but just as good anyways. 🙂

    Eva – you can get CFL potlights. And as Duane noted, you can even get CFLs that can be dimmed.

    One other thing to note – new dimmer switches are actually more energy efficient than older ones. The older ones were a simple POT where the extra energy was simply dissipated through resistors, but the new ones are electronic and you actually save energy when you dim the lights.

    Duane – great idea!

  6. Eva says:

    I think they’ve started to encourage people to pick up an extra recycling bin to use. This is good and more often than not I see people leaving out recyclables on trash day (recycling is picked up on a different day). It’s a downright shameful. Is it really that difficult to break down that large cardboard box the big-screen TV came in?

    Andrea – Love the idea of composting, but I’m not sure if there’s a good spot in my backyard for that here. I live in a townhouse and I’m sure the compost bin/pile would need to be a certain distance from the home or property line. I know that the borough collects leaves every fall for their composting program. And the residents reap in the riches of black gold come spring.

  7. Andrea_R says:

    I have a lazy compost pile, meaning I (or rather the hubby) doesn’t turn it often, so it smells a bit. But you have to get right on top of it to tell. i’m way out in the country though.

    A well-maintained pile doesn;t smell at all and can be broekn down in as little as 2 weeks, but it requires a certain level of attention. 🙂

    This winter I want to try vermicomposting because trudging out in 4 feet of snow was no fun.

  8. Raul says:

    As an environmentalist, lots of hat tips to you my friend. And quite obviously, all my light bulbs are CFL already 🙂

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