112 Minutes of Caring
Make Your House More Energy Efficient by Changing All Your Light Bulbs
Ingredients: Pen and Paper
Enough energy efficient light bulbs for your entire house
Ladder (for ceiling light fixtures
Friend (to hold the ladder or to make things go quicker and to keep you company at the hardware store)
DVD of Kilowatt Ours (optional)
Caring Time: 112 Minutes (or 174 if you watch the movie before or after)
Cost: About $125
Results: Reduced utility bill
Conservation of natural resources
Satisfaction of making a difference
My wife, Lynnette, and I watched Kilowatt Ours at a local awareness-raising event. The documentary details how Americans are using vast amounts of electricity and what this is doing to our environment and our pocket books.
The ultimate goal of filmmaker Jeff Barrie is to wean the entire nation off of its addiction to coal and other fossil fuels because our consumption of them causes so much harm to the earth. His film details the various ways in which our massive use of coal hurts people and communities. In order to achieve such a monumental goal, Jeff encourages people to act small—use less electricity, purchase energy efficient appliances, change the most-used light bulbs to energy efficient models, and buy clean energy.
He inspired us. In fact, we didn’t decide to change only the bulbs we use most often, but every single one inside (and outside) of our house. We knew it was quite a task and would cost a bit of money, but we knew that in the end our reduced electric bill would make up for the initial investment.
First, we took a survey of all of our lights in our house. We counted the overhead lights, the lights on the fans, the lamps, the outside lights, the vanity lights, the closet lights, the lights in the hall, and the lights in the pantry. Having made a list of numbers and wattage, we headed off to our local hardware store.
Home Depot has a great selection of energy efficient light bulbs, and we were able to find specific bulbs to meet our needs. Not only did we find a variety of wattages, but also we found floodlights, outdoor bug lights, and regular lamp light bulbs. The bulbs do cost quite a bit more that traditional light bulbs (about $4 a piece, on average), but the fact that you’re using 75% less energy for each bulb replaced and will save money on your next monthly electric bill offsets the feeling of a lighter wallet. You can also buy bulk packages and save money.
Since we needed about 25 regular 60-watt bulbs, we decided to buy in bulk on eBay. We ended up saving about $35 dollars going this route. Just search eBay for ‘energy efficient light bulbs.’ We bought 30 bulbs for less than $40 shipped.
Within a week, all of our fixtures were filled with better bulbs, and we even saw a $4 decrease in our electric bill. The way these bulbs work is similar to how fluorescent bulbs work, as opposed to incandescent bulbs (regular light bulbs). Regular bulbs produce heat, which ends up as wasted energy since all you need is the light (and not the heat). Energy efficient bulbs don’t produce heat, thus they use less energy. They are also brighter and last longer. Everyone wins.
They key, of course, to really saving energy and money, is to use less electricity to begin with, which we’re working on. Unplugging appliances when we’re not using them, turning off lights when we leave a room, and turning the thermostat up a degree when it’s warm out helps us accomplish this, one step at a time.