Take advantage of cool weather to burn out those last incandescent light bulbs

If you still have some incandescent light bulbs hanging around and are unsure what to do with them, here’s a suggestion: use them only during the heating season.

In these days of efficient bulbs, that sounds counterintuitive, but here’s the story. Of all the energy used by incandescent light bulbs, only about 10% actually produces light; the rest is lost as heat. In warmer months of the year, that heat is unneeded and therefore wasted. And in hot months, it’s even worse: that waste heat from light bulbs makes air conditioners work much harder.

But during cooler months, when heating systems are operating, the waste heat from incandescent light bulbs is actually useful: it allows heaters to run less.

So if you have some leftover old incandescent light bulbs, consider installing them just during the cool months, when their waste heat is not wasted.

An important clarification: there’s no question that efficient light bulbs are the way to go – compact fluorescents or, even better, LEDs. This is only a strategy to work through any remaining incandescent bulbs. If you happen to be in New Brunswick, take advantage of this great promotion on efficient light bulbs.

(Quick insider note: my Mom has some old long-life incandescent light bulbs that, true to their name, refuse to burn out. So installing her ‘winter bulbs’ has been part of our Thanksgiving routine for several years now, and removing them is part of the Easter routine…)

Automatic door openers are in buildings everywhere these days, helping provide access to people with mobility challenges.  But their popularity has led to an unintended side effect: many people with no mobility issues have gotten into the comfortable habit of pressing the button too.

Automatic openers use electricity, and they often hold exterior doors open long enough for a lot of heat to escape.

So to save a bit of electricity and heat, why not leave automatic door openers for those who really need them, and , if you can, open doors the old-fashioned way.

In the News

What are the TOP 10 environmental moments of the past decade?  Here they are, according to CNN.  The last two sentences of number 8 will likely surprise you. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/12/17/environmental.decade.top.ten/

Who – or what – came out on top in Copenhagen last month, and who – or what – lost out?  http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/915898

It’s summer, but your electric baseboard heaters may still be consuming energy and running up your power bill.

Here’s why. First, in spite of our best intentions, thermostats are sometimes not turned down. We forget, especially in rooms we don’t often use, or they get turned up on a cool day and aren’t set back down later.

Secondly, thermostats often lose their accuracy – so even when you turn them down, they may still click the heat on during cooler periods. For example, a thermostat that’s off by 5 degrees may kick in when it’s 15 degrees, even if you have it set down to 10 degrees. That’s heat you don’t need and money you can save.

There’s a simple way to be sure your heat is not coming on behind your back this summer: go to your power panel and turn off the breaker for your heaters. Then just reset it in the fall when you want the heat. Simple savings!

In the news

Green power is taking root in China with massive investments in wind (6 huge projects are under construction, each with the output of 16 coal fired power plants). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/business/energy-environment/03renew.html?_r=1 Britain has the potential to be a world leader in offshore wind and wave power in just over a decade. http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/britain-could-be-wind-and-wave-titan/ (It’s amazing how much change is possible in just ten years: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/rss/article/726744.)

In the meantime, lamentably, Canada placed dead last in the World Wildlife Fund’s rating of G8 nations, “not even close” to meeting its Kyoto targets. http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL1579922

Have you ever heard of a ‘chimney pillow’ or a ‘chimney balloon’? You might want to look into one if you have a chimney in your home. You see, if you have a chimney (especially one with a fireplace), there’s a good chance it’s running up your heating bill.

Fireplaces can be cozy and romantic, but they are not very efficient at heating a home – most of the heat they produce goes straight up the chimney. But what’s worse is this: long after the fire is out, a good bit of your precious home heat keeps going up the chimney. That’s because the dampers in chimneys are not very airtight, and they allow much warm air to escape up and out. They often create a noticeable draft indoors too.

To stop this heat loss, you can stuff a ‘chimney pillow’ or ‘chimney balloon’ up into the flue when there’s no fire on. Well installed, a pillow or balloon will stop drafts and save you significant heating dollars. You can buy one, or make your own with supplies from your hardware store. The internet has plenty of helpful information.

It’s easy to stop the draft from your flue or chimney – but remember to take it out before you start a fire!