Saturday, December 8, 2007

Being frugal with home lighting

Many posts, blog and otherwise, have been written on the benefits of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and how they save energy, money and time (e.g., changing the darn things). I have several bulbs in my home that are CFLs, but not all fixtures and lamps are converted. I am a big believer in being prepared and have purchased several CFLs for when the incandescent bulbs give their final pop! Unfortunately, the previous owner believed in low wattage incandescent bulbs. Needless to say, when I replaced some of the bulbs in the light fixtures, the situation improved as the CFLs give off more light with fewer watts of electricity consumed (even compared to the 40W light bulb).

Many people are concerned about both the cost of purchase of the CFLs as well as the disposal. As my brother-in-law so eloquently demonstrated, many people still throw them out in the regular garbage. Since there is a small amount of mercury in the vapour trapped inside the twisty bulbs, CFLs are considered hazardous waste. Contact your city hall or private waste disposal company to ask how to recycle CFLs. I am lucky as the hardware stores in my city take back all fluorescent bulbs. The added benefit: my utility company will give a customer $1 credit per returned bulb toward the purchase of a new CFL. Check if your utility company has a similar policy. My utility requires each customer to download a form, fill it out and turn it in the same time the dead CFLs are recycled. Unfortunately, I found out about the form after I returned two CFLs for recycling.

When I moved into my house, two of the three outdoor fixtures were in need of replacement. My dad was a great help and replaced both with the fixtures I purchased. While both fixtures have incandescent bulbs, they are also motion sensitive (sometimes too sensitive), going on only when needed. Both also can be set to go on from dawn to dusk, but I refrain as it is unnecessary. The fixture by my front door is a relic of the 1970s, but once my dad and brother-in-law diagnosed the issue of bulb replacement (someone left the metal screw-in portion in the socket thus preventing me from putting in a new bulb), I put in two CFLs. The light is bright and more energy efficient. The cold does not bother the CFLs and it can get into negative numbers in my area. I was disappointed one bulb only lasted a year, but I read somewhere that having the bulb upside down may cause a problem with the ballast. However, my neighbor's CFL bulb (upside down in an identical fixture) is going strong for at least two years.

While saving electric costs is always a frugal measure, buying fixtures frugally is also worthwhile. I purchased a $10 used floor lamp for my living room from an ad on craigslist and a new lamp shade on sale at Target to replace the one that disintegrated on my table lamp. I am also looking to replace light fixtures in the dining room and bedrooms, and have been watching both sale flyers and classified ads for some. I am in the consideration stage, trying to find a fixture I like, deciding how easy it would be for me to change a light bulb and my backup plan if I am unable to install it myself. Hopefully, I will settle all these issues by the time garage sale season starts. I may find fixtures I like then, giving me another option.

When I first moved into my house, I received a new homeowner's packet of coupons to help me spend my money refurbishing my home. While I ignored ones from Linen and Things, I did use the 20% off my entire purchase at Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon and a 10% off my entire purchase at Home Depot coupon. This saved me money on things I needed as well as stocking up on items I would need in the future. There are likely similar programs in your community and you might plan purchases but not buy until you receive similar coupons. Ten or 20% off your purchase especially if you stock up on things that are consumable and you will use (e.g., CFLs) will ease some of the pinch of maintaining your home.

While my home does not lend itself to using them, try the solar lights along the walkway to your door. Other than the initial purchase cost, the lights do not cost any money to run. I have also seen LED lights powered by solar for outdoor lamp posts. While a higher purchasing cost than the garden or walkway solar lights, the LEDs are certainly brighter and might be something to have right by the door to eliminate fumbling with keys and lock.

No comments:

Post a Comment