Are You Part of the Stealth Green Energy Movement?
Sometimes the bad news about energy and the environment in the media can be overwhelming. Good news tends to get pushed aside in favor of spectacular disasters. Yet, every day in towns and cities across America, people are working on green energy projects that both help the environment and save money. This shouldn't be a surprise -- survey after survey has found that most Americans are concerned about the environment, and most cities today are scrambling to save money.
Energy Saving Light Bulbs in Street Lights. Replacing conventional incandescent electric bulbs with LED bulbs in street lights is one popular green energy project. In the largest such project in the world, Los Angeles is replacing the bulbs of 140,000 street lights. The LED bulbs use considerably less electricity, creating not only money savings but also savings in the oil and coal needed to generate electricity. When complete, the project will save the City $10 million each year. Of that, $2.5 million will be saved on maintenance costs and $7.5 million in electrical usage. The project will also reduce carbon emissions from electric generation by 40,500 tons per year. That's like taking 6,700 cars off L.A. streets for the life of the bulbs -- every year for 10 or so years.
L.A. City engineers originally hoped that the LED bulbs would save 40% on electric bills. When they measured the savings of switching over the first 20,000 bulbs, they were pleasantly surprised to find that the savings on electricity was more like 55%. The City has also found that the LED lights create brighter and more uniform visibility, reducing pockets of dark shadow that conventional street lights tend to leave.
L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa commented proudly, 'We're seeing L.A. lead the way.' The project is being funded, in part, by Federal stimulus dollars as well as the Clinton Foundation. Sarah Potts of the Clinton Foundation said, 'The Clinton Climate Initiative was excited to work on this project mainly because L.A. was willing to be a mover on this. They were willing to set the bar for where energy efficiency street lighting could and should go.'
However, L.A. is not alone. This type of green street lighting project is being undertaken from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to towns in Northern California, where PG&E, the electric utility, gives rate breaks and rebates to its street light customers who switch over to LED bulbs.
Green Energy Projects at Home. We don't have to wait for government projects before we can start saving money by helping the environment. If you want to go greener in your own home or business, you can take steps that range from quick and simple to more ambitious:
1) Replace the bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Today's fluorescents fit into regular lamps and fixtures, come in a range of warm colors, and save electricity. While CFL bulbs cost more at the supermarket, they last longer than old-fashioned incandescents, and so cost less over their lifetimes. You can start by buying a four-pack on your next trip for groceries. Unscrew the bulbs in the light fixtures you use most often and screw in the new bulbs. It's that simple.
2) Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans are very efficient when it comes to cooling a room. Set your thermostat for the air conditioner 2 degrees higher than usual, turn on your ceiling fan, and you're achieving the usual cooling effect while saving money and electricity.
3) Here's a more ambitious green step. Make your next car an electric hybrid or all-electric. Electric vehicles reduce our dependence on foreign oil -- 60% of our oil imports are burned in our vehicles. Electric vehicles are available today that are competitively priced, convenient, and also give you the benefit of freeing you from the ups and downs of gas prices while enjoying the satisfaction of helping the environment.
If you see solar panels on some of the buildings in your town or if you've purchased an Energy Star appliance or installed compact fluorescents in your light fixtures, you and your town are part of the green energy movement that is quietly growing throughout our country.