The Power Of Small Changes

We get a lot of kale in our CSA box of veggies (image by terren in Virginia, CC 2.0 license)

There’s a perception that green is more expensive and less convenient, and, truth to say, that’s sometimes true. It is more expensive to buy your groceries at Whole Foods. And putting solar panels on your roof doesn’t really save you money for many years, if at all, (although it’s still less than buying a new car).

But on the other hand, we know that there are lots of green things you can do that actually save money – replacing your incandescent lights with compact fluorescents is one familiar example. And if you’re building a house, putting in lots more insulation than is required by code can save a huge amount of both money and energy, while making your home more comfortable.

Sometimes it’s small changes that can flip this perception. I have a recent example from my own life that brought this home to me (so to speak):

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Which CFL should you buy to replace your incandescent lightbulbs?

I had what I believe is a common experience last week, when I decided to “go green” and replaced the incandescent bulb in my bedside lamp with a compact fluorescent (CFL). Suddenly, my bedroom had that look that you used to get with old black-and-white TV sets, a blueish cast that’s not comfortable at all. It wasn’t a bad light to read by, but overall it gave the room a cold and unpleasant feeling.

Since I “had” to go to Home Depot anyway, I took the opportunity of asking one of the experts there about which CFL I should use to get the old incandescent light feeling back. As it turned out, the answer was simple, although it would have taken me much testing to figure out on my own: buy CFLs that are called “soft white.” The bulb I was using was a “daylight” bulb – these are the ones to avoid. A “soft white” CFL has a warm light, like an incandescent.

I bought a couple, replaced the “daylight” bulb in my bedside lamp, and am now happily saving a few pennies a day on lighting and air conditioning with my wonderful “soft white” CFL.