Sunday, February 21, 2010

Energy-Efficient Lighting Made Without Mercury

Compact fluorescent light-bulbs (CFL) use dramatically less electricity and give off less heat than the Edison incandescent bulb (yes the technology is that old), however mercury is used in the manufacturing process. Mercury is increasingly showing up in the oceans, the fish, our water supply, and in our bodies. It's a toxin that causes all kinds of diseases. Now we have some good news from Science Daily on a company (RTI International) that has created a new technology that allows fluorescent bulbs to be manufactured without mercury. They hope to have it available in the marketplace in 3-5 years. From the article:

"Because lighting consumes almost one-fourth of all electricity generated in the United States, our technology could have a significant impact in reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions," Davis said. "The technology also does not contain mercury, which makes it more environmentally friendly and safer to handle than CFLs and other fluorescent lamps."

RTI International: planet Earth and the human race thank you.


Anonymous said...

You should look at LED Lights.

Justin A. Rickard said...


Thanks for the comment. I actually thought about mentioning LEDs in the blog post, but decided just to address just CFLs. I am extremely excited for the potential of LEDs and I hope they are ubiquitous.


Justin Rickard

Demeur said...

Justin - Just stumbled on you blog and just had to leave a comment or two.

Right now the CFLs are the way to go. LEDs are very expensive and in asking around people who have been using them say they only put out about 40 watts of light.

I just finished a weatherization technician/installer course and hope to get to work soon. There's so much a homeowner can do to save energy without having a full blown audit. I've been doing a bunch of posts about the subject. Another piece of advice, you might want to stock up on insulation and caulking soon as prices will go up when this thing takes off.

Justin A. Rickard said...


I agree with you that CFLs are the way to go for the average homeowner simply from a cost perspective. But LED technology is evolving rapidly and sooner than later will be cost competitive with CFLs (economies of scale). In addition, I like that LEDs give off substantially less heat and last longer than CFLs.

Good job on taking a weatherization course. Make sure you look into acquiring a RESNET certification (the RESNET web site is off to the right of the blog under the heading "Energy Audit").

I took an energy audit class myself at a local community college and learned an unbelievable amount about the physics of a building - pressure, air flow, etc., and the ROI of certain energy efficiency techniques (insulation, doors, windows, HVAC, etc.). I would have to disagree with dissuading a homeowner from having a full blown audit by a RESNET certified technician. A professional certified opinion is invaluable for the homeowner and for the local economy. One more thing to think about is that in order to receive a lot of the government tax credits and utility rebates require that the work be done by a certified auditor and installer.

And thanks for the tip on the insulation and caulking prices. I didn't think about that.


Justin Rickard
Denver Sun Sponge

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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