The energy bill impact

After trying simply to cool down my office at home I went back to the Carbon Calculator at Al Gore's site and realized a shocking thing.

My energy usage (at $125-150/month) causes approximately the same CO2 emissions as my car, which has a super inefficient V8 engine.

I live in an apartment, run the A/C a bit, and have lots of computers. But the CFL (compact fluorescents) have made such a noticeable difference in the temperature of my office (and as a result I actually run the A/C quite a bit less). With a 5x decrease in energy usage and heat, it seems crazy not to use them everywhere.

As I've said in other posts, these are not your father's fluorescent lights. I hate the old fluorescent, color-shifting 60Hz stutter. Instead you can get warm lights at halogen (3000K) or incandescent (2700K) color temperatures, and they look great, don't flicker, and they're even dimmable.

I replaced my old incandescent desk lamp with this full-spectrum one (which has great contrast for reading), and I replaced my 300W Halogen torchiere with this one and a Halogen-temperature bulb, a combination that looks pretty incredible. The new lights are really well made too.

You don't even have to go that far - simple replacement bulbs will work with your existing fixtures.

And the impact of this is not insignificant. It's almost as if I've bought a Prius for $100. The CO2 impact of all this is huge, the new bulbs last forever (10x longer than incandescent), and it's really very easy to do this yourself.


  1. I'm curious, did you investigate LED based lighting?

  2. I investigated LEDs and didn't go with them for a few reasons:

    1. On the low-end, fixtures tend to be very directional, involving many small sources, which gives a less pleasing diffuse light.
    2. Efficiency (surprisingly) seems to be nearly equivalent to CFLs
    3. General availability and price-point: good LEDs (ones that don't look bad) tend to be much more expensive than CFLs today.

  3. The Independent has a story on this:

    I still hate the look of most of the CFLs though, but I can't really explain. I think it is a combination of their color temperature plus (very subtle) flickering.

  4. GE's soft white CFL's look good, and Lorna even agreed with me.