Residential energy efficiency is a lot like the weather - everybody talks about it but nobody does anything.
But the good news is energy conservation and lower utility bills don't have to start with expensive projects - it only takes $8. Stop by any one of a number of Mountain Home, Idaho retailers and you'll change back from a ten for a 4-pack of compact fluorescent bulbs. At this price, payback for the higher priced bulbs is reduced to just a few months.
A couple of hints about what to expect and how to best use these bulbs.
- They may dim over time so pick a bulb that is rated 20% higher than the bulb you're replacing. For example, replace 60 watt (about 800 lumens) with CFB's rated at (950-1000 lumens). Fortunately, the conversion is indicated on most packaging so you won't need to figure on your fingers in front of everyone.
- Only replace bulbs in fixtures that will be on at least an hour and a half per day and not where lights are frequently turned on and off. Good - Rooms where the family settles for a while. Bad - Bathrooms, dressing areas, utility rooms, etc.
- Fluorescent bulbs are somewhat sensitive to moisture and extreme temperatures so use as outdoors or in the garage is not recommended.
- Finally, they contain a small amount of mercury and can't be discarded as household waste. This is a bit of a nuisance since the City of Mountain Home only conducts hazardous waste pickups once a year. I recommend a large cardboard box and few phone calls to City Hall (208 587-2104) requesting at least semiannual collections.