Electricity, My Pocketbook, and the Environment (part 1)

Turning on the Light Bulb

Today is not the beginning of a quest but the extension of one that has been going on for many years. In 2004 our family used 14,060 kWh over the course of the year. That was the year we did our first electricity challenge. In 2008 I shared my challenge with others. In 2016, we were down to 11,043 kWh. That was in spite of having two new buildings and electric heating units installed in three rooms.

Over the next few months, I have promised myself to re-research and carry through on the things I need to do to tweak my energy usage even more.
In the past I have just implemented energy savings ideas with no strategy on how to get from point A to point B. Sure, they probably helped, but did I miss some? Quite likely! Am I still missing them? Certainly.

The US Dept of Energy has great information on choosing a company to do an energy audit and what to do to get ready. http://tinyurl.com/6bb4lz For more information on energy audits go to http://tinyurl.com/6q3vqb
A few years ago, our local news did a piece on energy audits and used Chopper 10 to evaluate heat loss with heat seeking radar and some other fancy electronics. Wouldn’t it be cool to have that done?
Now, I have an idea of what they look for. I will contact some companies and see about having the audit performed, but for now, I will start my own list.


CFLs and LED technology

A great debate has begun over the safety of using CFL bulbs in the home, considering that they contain a small amount of mercury. As a person who is chemically sensitive from previous overexposures to hazardous materials, I want things to be safe.

I have a choice if I want to use technology which requires less electricity: CFL bulbs or LED components.

CFLs contain varying amounts of mercury so they could be a hazard if broken in the home and not cleaned up properly. I am going to need to weigh the dangers carefully. http://tinyurl.com/yq8a6l Energy Star puts out an informational pdf to help. http://tinyurl.com/2elryb Unbroken CFLs should be recycled and broken CFLs should be cleaned up properly. Check out the links if you want to educate yourself on how to do it. The CFLs contain much less mercury than the fillings in my teeth. EEK, is that a good thing? The good news is that the amount of mercury is being reduced dramatically.

While CFLs are readily available, I may choose to use LEDs in areas where they may come in contact with children or pets and use CFLs where they are not likely to get broken.  For more info on LEDs go to http://tinyurl.com/6ns7zl

I’ve discovered a site http://www.eartheasy.com , and ordered a few goodies to try. First, I scooped up an amber LED bug light for outside.  It’s about three times more expensive than the traditional incandescent we used to buy. However, it will use less electricity and that reduces mercury emissions into the air at the power plant side. Yippee! It’s one good thing for the environment that will also help on the electric bill. Another source for LEDs is http://tinyurl.com/6krxb7,  and http://tinyurl.com/5rjrkm .
I’m changing the bulbs in my home (about 2300). Some bulbs have already been changed, so I’ll have a head start. A few years ago, I put in natural light fluorescents in the office to help fight a vitamin D deficiency. A side is that the natural light bulbs lift mood and can prevent seasonal affective disorder, which can strike during the winter.

Benefits all around.