Nightlights that use virtually no power

If you like having a little bit of light in your home at night, you can save by switching to electroluminescent nightlights.

Typical nightlight bulbs use 4 or 7 watts.  That’s not a lot – but they’re often on for long periods of time, and many homes have more than one.

Electroluminescent nightlights, like the one shown, are incredibly efficient: plugged in 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they use just two cents worth of power.  Yep, two cents a year, or about 99.5% savings over a 7 watt bulb.

They do provide a bit less intensity and a different glow than standard nightlights – but the savings are worth it.  Ask for them at your local hardware store.  (Mine have a lifetime warranty, and were purchased here.)

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A portable power meter can save you energy and money

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” goes the expression.  It applies to electricity too, where our only indication of consumption is the monthly bill we get.  But by then, it’s too late to do anything about it.  As well, power bills tell us nothing about what’s running up our bill – so we have no way to distinguish the power hogs in our homes and workplaces from the power misers.

Portable power meters to the rescue!  They’re simple devices that provide a real-time readout of the power consumption of anything that plugs into an outlet.  Once you know how much power is consumed by the different things in your home or workplace, you can zero in on actions that will make the biggest difference in your power usage – and bill.

Portable meters like this one, this one or this one (a bit more expensive, but very good and easy to use) are available for loan at many public libraries, or at many hardware stores.

This is not hot air

November 1, 2011

Take a pass on Helium-filled balloons

Helium balloons have become part of birthdays, weddings and carnivals because they’re fun.  But maybe we need to rethink them.

Here’s why: Helium is a very limited resource.  We get it from within the earth – but there’s only so much on our planet, and once it’s lost to the atmosphere, it’s impossible to recover or recycle.  Helium is vital to many industrial and medicinal uses, like welding, fibre optics and the MRI machines used in hospitals everywhere.  At our current rate of Helium use, however, shortages can be expected in 25-30 years.  Yikes!

Given that reality, conservation seems a wise strategy.  Most people would agree that MRI machines are probably more important than party balloons.  So perhaps we should collectively reserve our limited supply of Helium for the most important uses, and take a pass on frivolous uses like party balloons.

(Click here for more information on the coming shortage of Helium.)