Global warming has been proven to be caused by human production of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Coal-powered power generators are widely used, which contribute to these gases. If we were to reduce our reliance on such power supplies, we can change the amount of greenhouse gases that are spewed into the atmosphere.
Changing incandescent light bulbs to more energy efficient alternatives help considerably. Incandescent light bulbs convert 90% of its electricity consumption to heat and last less than 1000 hours. Compact fluorescent (otherwise known as energy saving) light bulbs (CFL) uses chemical reaction of phosphor powder and mercury to produce light. CFLs are 90% energy efficient and last years. A 15 watt CFL luminance output is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent light bulb, which translates to energy savings of US$30 over the lifetime of the bulb. Light emitting diodes (LED) lighting can last 10 years, are very durable and does not contain poisonous mercury. However, they are still quite expensive and are more suitable for focused lighting as opposed to diffused lighting.
It has been estimated that if there is a worldwide effort to move away from incandescent bulbs, 270 500-megawatt coal power plants can be shut down. The Natural Resources Defense Council of USA estimates that changing to CFLs would reduce greenhouse gases by 1 trillion pounds.
Philips Lighting CEO quoted reports that estimate that if more of Europe use energy efficient lighting, the annual running cost savings would be around 4.3 billion euros or 28 million tons of carbon dioxide reduced per year. This equates to 50 million barrels of oil per year. Using better lighting solutions would lead to less taxes payable for energy use, drive down the use of hazardous chemicals such as mercury.
Several countries and US states are proposing bans on incandescent light bulbs to make way for more energy efficient lighting.
If you are unsure if you are using and buying energy efficient light bulbs (and other electrical and electronic products), look out for the ENERGY STAR logo and label. Products that bear this label have been qualified by the Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
TreeHugger – Ban the Bulb
CNET.com – FAQ Guide to indoor lighting
GE Consumer and Industrial Lighting – GE Lighting ENERGY STAR Program
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