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Earth Sense: LED bulbs might be best alternative
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It gets dark an hour earlier now than it did last month. As we head for the shortest days of the year, outdoor and indoor lighting are very important.

Significant savings in energy bills were provided by switching to cf, or compact fluorescent bulbs, most of them spiral shaped. They reduce power consumption from 60 per bulb to 13. Every bit of electricity saved translates into a lesser need for more power plants.

But as many have noticed, the spiral bulbs don’t like to be turned on and off on a frequent basis, and take revenge by burning out quickly.

It gets worse when one is accidentally broken. The official safety rules call for evacuating the area, shutting all heating and air conditioning off, opening every window and aerating the place up to two hours. The list goes on, including safety gear and mask, and you’re not even supposed to throw the debris in the trash.

Clearly, this isn’t a long-term solution toward safe, energy-efficient living. The time has come to phase those bulbs out and replace them with another type, puts out a great deal of truly white light, and is now affordably priced: The LED bulb.

Its power consumption is even less than that of compact fluorescents. No special adapters are needed. Just screw the bulb in and enjoy a much fresher-lookingight than you had before.

Comparing prices, as always, can result in good bargains as these bulbs sell as low as $3 a piece now for standard household size.

Another advantage comes with outdoor lighting. Fluorescents don’t like cold weather. Some of the older long tube styles even quit at the temperatures found in attic and basement spaces, and all you get is a loud hum from the ballast and a flicker from the bulb.

LED bulbs put out some heat, which explains the cooling fins found on many, and function very well in cold weather. The initial investment is higher than with cf bulbs or incandescents, but their lifetime of up to 30,000 hours, and the minimal power consumption, pay dividends after some time.

If you’d like to get more tips and ideas, the next topic in Brenau’s free public talk series “Sense & Sustainability” is efficiency, provided by energy expert Robert Eidson at 5 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Brenau’s Thurmond McRae Auditorium.

Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor of physical science and director of sustainability at Brenau University. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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