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 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.

  2. 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.

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