Making The Switch

We live in an 1887 farmhouse. To say it is not weather-tight would be an understatement. Our first utility bills were…..fascinating. In 2006, we took a number of steps to improve the seals on the house (that new door that actually blocks the west wind was a significant improvement) and invested in a geothermal heating/airconditioning unit.

The geothermal unit cost us $10K and a big muddy mess in the yard. But November, 2005’s propane bill was over $400 and the electric was $250. November, 2006’s heating bill was: $57.
Even better, remember how hot last July was? Our air conditioning bill was: $21.

Do the math. Geothermal pays for itself within four years or less. Read more about it here.

This year’s energy plans are less expensive to implement, but no less beneficial to both the environment and our pocketbooks: we’re going to screw in a few light bulbs.

I’ve been looking at the 5-year energy saving bulbs for a few years, but have been put off by the price. It just didn’t seem like it was worth it. Then Michael Barbaro at the New York Times did the math for me: “A compact fluorescent has clear advantages over the widely used incandescent light — it uses 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb.”

Eight bucks saved per bulb per year? That’s a lot of fabric at the quilt store!

What really won me over, though, is that the bulbs are no longer limited to harsh flourescent glare — they come in soft white, natural, and “daylight” or “full spectrum.”

Our New Year’s resolution is to replace each incandescent bulb as it burns out with a compact flourescent in “full spectrum.” So far, we’ve replaced lights in a walk-in closet, two ceiling fans, the laundry room, and two living room lamps. We’ll let you know how things turn out for the electricity bill.

Want to make the switch? You can start your comparison shopping here.

Need more convincing? Go read How Many Bloggers Does It Take To Screw In A Light Bulb?


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  1. makes sense if you can absorb the up fromt cost of the bulb… and gee, if you can afford fabric you can afford a light bulb 🙂

  2. Wow, that geothermal is something else – good investment. Down here in Florida they could definitely do more with solar energy, that’s for sure. I like the idea of having all the bulbs in the house be full spectrum – I’ll have to see what’s available in France.

  3. I am slowly converting all our light bulbs, except for the spot lights in the kitchen and some of the side “candle” lights. Our electricity bills are big and I am constantly on the look out for saving devices.Tonya – if you are reading this – yes those bulbs are available over here, but don’t get the cheap ones – they blow!

  4. And the full spectrum lights might help your mood if you have mild case of the winter blues. And maybe even see the fabric colors better.

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