Replacing The Light Bulbs

This is one post in a series that started here, describing what I've learned while attempting to understand my ecological footprint.

Back in January we swapped out most of our incandescent light bulbs for Compact Fluorescents. The CFLs use about 1/4 the power of the old incandescents, and while they cost more up front, I haven't had a single one blow out... Or do they fade away... If one of them ever stops producing light I'll let you know what that looks like.

Overall the change to CFLs was nearly painless. The main downside is the ridiculous form molded plastic packaging the lights come in. It takes a pair of pliers and a blowtorch to open it.

There were some odd side effects:

Dimmer Switches
The dimmer switches I installed in a few rooms became obsolete. The standard CFL doesn't dim gracefully. Instead it flickers angrily as if it is spitting at you while saying "Hey cut that out! I don't dim!!!" This turned out not to matter much because we never actually used the dimmer switches with the incandescents either.

Less Circuits:
The other strange thing relates back to the basement project. Over the past two years I've been finishing my basement with the help of my family. Actually the latter half of the project was more my dad finishing my basement with my help. More on that in a future post.

When we first worked out the electrical, we determined that the ceiling lighting for the entire basement would require 2 15Amp circuits. This was based on the total number of incandescent bulbs at a maximum of 100w each. But we did the math 2 years ago, and long before I started the my ecological footprint project.

Now that I'm using CFLs I could fit the power to light all of my basement lights on half circuit! Of course that wouldn't be up to code so 2 circuits it is. Still, when I realized the reduction in infrastructure that CFLs would enable the reality of cutting lighting power by 75% really hit home.

New Light Bulbs in Plain English
Today CommonCraft released a great video on why switching to CFLs is a good idea. As usual, another great production!