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A bright idea for energy savings

Student CommentaryZachary RamirezGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

In my second installment, I’d like address a rather mundane contributor to global warming. That is not to say that this perpetrator’s impact is at all insignificant. This item is extremely inefficient and responsible for millions of pounds of CO2 emissions annually. What’s more, they are found in virtually every household in the U.S. I’m talking, of course, about incandescent light bulbs. First, a definition. Incandescent light bulb, n.: a source of artificial light that works via an electrical current passing through a thin filament, heating it and causing it to become excited, releasing thermally equilibrated photons in the process. The enclosing glass bulb prevents the oxygen in air from reaching the hot filament, which otherwise would be destroyed rapidly by oxidation. Thank you, Wikipedia.Ninety percent of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb is wasted as heat; incandescents can run as hot as 350 degrees. On the other hand, compact fluorescent bulbs, which we will simply define as Earth’s favorite light bulb, remain at a cool 90F. Condemning their criminal inefficiency, Australia recently passed a national ban on all incandescent light bulbs. By switching out only 10 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 10 compact fluorescent bulbs that last 6,000 hours, average carbon savings amount to 5,576 pounds of CO2 in the state of Colorado over the life of the fluorescent bulbs. But that’s not all – fiscally, energy bills are reduced by an average of $246.24, depending on specific location. This is because compact fluorescents typically save 8-12 times their cost via hyper-efficiency. That is, although they do cost more, money will undoubtedly be saved on monthly payments. So don’t be put off by the initial investment – your wallet will ultimately thank you. Oh, and the earth will, too.As far as availability goes, compact fluorescent bulbs are stocked in practically all hardware stores nationwide. Costco even sells bulk-packs. Go figure. And so, the hardest part of this transition towards sustainability will be the inevitable physical act of light bulb replacement. I know, it’s annoying. But that’s certainly no excuse.Zachary Ramirez is a senior at Colorado Rocky Mountain School.


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