Friday, January 04, 2013

Lighting the Way

Whether you think global warming is fact (97 percent of climate scientists world-wide do) or fantasy (a handful of scientists are skeptics) you most likely believe that air pollution is not a good thing.

As one who suffers from COPD (a fancy abbreviation that means my lungs don’t work all that well), I fully endorse any measures that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The purer the air, the better I live. And that applies to every human on this planet.

The biggest amounts of carbon dioxide emissions come from our cherished gasoline-burning vehicles and from power plants burning coal that generate most of the electricity used in the U.S. Individuals can do things both large and small in both areas to help our lives be healthier. On the small side, one action looks like a winner right now.

LEDS--bright idea for 2013
After spending hours in the annual hassle trying to get strings of outdoor holiday lights working, beautiful wife Sandy took the initiative and replaced the whole nonfunctional tangle with new strings of LED lights.

LED lights are pricey. Our new complement cost slightly more than $100, and we have a fairly modest outdoor display. However, nary a bulb has burned out during the three weeks they’ve been twinkling outside in generally inhospitable Michigan weather. If claims prove true, few or none will burn out for many years. I fully expect to burn out before the lights do.

The really good news about replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs is that LEDs use fully 80 percent less electricity. Most electricity in our state comes from coal-burning power plants.

So although my holiday pocketbook felt a bit light after the lighting switch, in the long run we’ll recoup the cost and can feel good about doing a small bit for the environment.

You can do better. Right now stores such as K-Mart are selling LED holiday lighting at huge discounts—as much as 50 percent. In many places, compact fluorescent bulbs also are on sale. They are not as energy efficient at LEDs, but they cost less and are as good or better for some purposes than incandescents.

Why not cash that check Uncle Moneybags sent for Christmas and get some new lighting to stash away until the holidays roll around again? You would be making a smart investment. The best time is now. It’s a positive way to start 2013.


Kay said...

We're looking at LEDs once they're a little cheaper for the rest of the house. We don't put up holiday lights outside of the house. We're lazy and electricity is too expensive in Hawaii.

Dick Klade said...

Kay, it is unfortunate the LEDs cost is so high. Other economies are possible. All closets in the house we bought have lighting. We use compact fluorescents in them, which is a nice electricity saving and does the job well.

JHawk23 said...

I'm all for conserving energy and I fully agree re LEDs; we installed these in our kitchen a couple of years ago and have had no trouble.

I can't recommend CFLs as a good alternative: I put in CFLs all around the house about four years ago. Among the "minor" problems are variations in color, slow start, they're often not dimmable, and most are not usable in enclosed fixtures like bathroom lighting.
The "major" problem, though, is their quality isn't what's claimed. Some bulbs burned out within DAYS, others within a year or two. I'd estimate that of roughly 25 CFLs I installed originally, at least 75% have been replaced at least once. If you don't get the 7 to 9 year life span that's supposed to be "typical" the energy savings disappear, eaten up by higher bulb prices. (

You're correct, Dick, that closets are a good use for CFLs; also maybe ceiling lights in basements, halls, or garages where the fixture can be hard to reach. Beyond that, though - for lamps, vanities, and the like, I've given up on them and am looking for suitable LED substitutes.

Dick Klade said...

Good points, JHawk. CFLs don't work everywhere. We have found them useful for garage lights and several outdoor lights we use mainly for security purposes. CFLs usually don't work well in reading lamps or other places where superior lighting is needed. We, however, have not yet experienced problems with the CFLs we do use burning out.

Tom Sightings said...

Good post. We've been changing over to LEDs as our old ones give up the ghost. I'd move more quickly, but to my knowledge I'm not related to Uncle Moneybags!

We also use CFLs strategically -- for our outside lights, for example, and any others we leave burning for long periods of time.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

All our Christmas lights were LED and all our light bulbs are LED. No CFL or old style lght bulbs here. Even my parrot cages have LED lights. Great invention.