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Taking Green Home

Posted by Jeff Edberg on September 8, 2009
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Energy Use in Iowa City

Ok. So we’re going green…for real. What’s next. We here’s what I think I can do, or at least try.
New lights
Lower temperature
Shorter showers
Pay attention, buy local
What I don’t think I can do, so far. After all, the things you buy don’t have the same personal impact as the things you do.
Replace windows
More insulation
Solar, or wind energy
Anyway, I’m starting with lighting. Lighting accounts for about 11% of the energy used in a home courtesy of Michel Bluejay’s graph. In my case, maybe more. When I renovated my house I added Thirty-Eight 75 watt halogen light cans to the existing lighting.

Here are a couple of problems. First, we’re talking about CFL’s – compact fluorescent lights. I have tried some and I don’t like the light. It’s too blue and makes me feel like moon light is streaming in the window. It’s cold and forbidding. Also, they flicker on and you can’t dim them. But, 13 watts replaces my 75 watt halogen bulbs, an 83% savings in energy use! And, they last 8 to 12 years without replacing.

Committed to this project, I pressed ahead. I found there have been some recent innovations in CFL lighting. First, there is this thing called light temperature. Blue light, or sunlight, has about a 5000 degree light temperature on the Kalvin scale. The CFL’s I used before are sort of a standard 3,000 degree Kalvin. The new bulbs are a 2,700 degree Kalvin temperature and they shine sort of light gold, just like the tungsten bulbs in normal incandescent lamp bulbs. So I tried one. I liked it. I liked it a lot! You can buy several different light temperature CFL bulbs to sort of set the mood in your lighting. Also, these new bulbs are called instant on. Well, they almost are which is close enough for me. The third drawback to CFL’s is the dimming. That needs more work. I tried one of them, and it was funny. They do dim, but they don’t dim well! They sputter higher or lower.

What I did was replace all the 75 watt halogen bulbs that don’t dim. That was about 10 of them. Then, I replaced all the 60 watt and 100 watt bulbs in my house including outside lights, lamp lights and ceiling lights in fixtures. I used the 2,700 degree Kalvin warm feeling CFL’s and like the effect. I replaced about about 40 of them. All together I replaced bulbs burning just shy of 4,000 watts of power with CFL’s burning about 700 watts of power. That’s quite a savings and I like the light.

I justify the option of not replacing the dimming halogens yet with the idea that I can dim them and save some power that way. I think I’m kidding my self with that, but I feel better about it. I’m on the way! I feel like I really started something and I’m doing more than just talking about saving energy. It may only be a start, but it is a good one.

Next we’ll look into composting.

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