We’re gradually making energy-saving adjustments to our old, old house. The new windows have helped our energy efficiency (and comfort!) tremendously. But for the most part, the changes we make have been, well, free. Or taxpayer-funded.
The city has been giving out those snazzy CFL bulbs at nearly every city-sponsored event I’ve been to in the past year, from picnics to lectures. And if you happen to be present towards the end of the event, organizers tend to hand them out in pairs or triples, rather than packing them back up. Which leads me to believe that the city knocked off a truckload of bulbs bound for Chicago. After all, every single individually packaged bulb (how’s that for green?) is printed with the seal of the City of Chicago and the Richard M. Daley, Mayor insignia. Sometimes they have a “City of Elgin” sticker slapped over the top, but not always.
Anyway, like good citizens we’ve been installing the new CFLs as the old incandescent bulbs burn out. We were even proactive and bought (ie, overpaid for) bulbs for the front porch lights two years ago, since they’re the longest running lights in the house. (Though it should be noted that the first ones last a mere six days – apparently brownouts burn the bulbs, literally browning them. But the second pair bought the next week is on its third summer, running every night from sunset until 2 AM.)
We haven’t noticed a huge difference in the energy bills, but (mercury concerns aside) we’ve been pretty diligent. However, the quality of the light is very different than that from incandescent bulbs. This isn’t an issue outside, where more light better illuminated the drug deals that used to happen across the way, and the security lights from HALF A MILE ACROSS THE RIVER blare into our bedroom at night.
But in the living room, with first one, then two and now four CFLs spotlighting the couch from the overhead fixture, we’re just about to buy some more incandescent bulbs. They’re so bright – Don has compared them to stadium lights – that they prevent relaxing (read: napping). I’ve found Don stretched out on the couch watching tv with his hand shading his eyes from the glare.
So we’re not going green for the sake of being green. Rather, a little bit of common sense must prevail. Though we’ll continue to collect the bulbs at city events – I wonder if there’s an aftermarket.