27 August, 2007

Links To Articles Of Interest Aug 07

To CFL or not to CFL?:
First, a link to a guide to CFL light bulbs - please note that there are a number of things that can be described a bit more.

CFL lights are Compact Fluorescent Lamps and they combine the humble fluoro tube (a bit coiled in on itself and mangled, but the same, basically) with an electronic circuit which replaces the big metal ballast in a traditional fluoro light fitting. Ballasts, being a winding of wire, had some resistance and lost some energy due to heat, and were prone to buzzing when the core laminations began to separate. The electronics still wastes some energy as heat but is generally less wasteful and not noisy.

CCFL lights are Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps and they include a tiny inverter so that they can operate off 12V. Think of those older 12V powered fluoro light fittings that were so popular as car trouble lights in the late 70's and early 80's - this is them, married to a CFL style lamp.

On the drawback side, the article I reference above mentions that you might save $80 a year on an average household power bill by using CFL light bulbs, and that CFLs cost more to initially purchase, and that may both be true - but there is a far more compelling reason to buy CFL - you are saving pollution which would have been generated by the power station to supply the extra power. That alone make it imperative to switch to CFL or CCFL style lighting.

On the bonus side, using CFLs means you can light up some of the more dimly lit areas of your home and still generate less pollution. Also, CFL light globes are now a LOT cheaper than you think. Shop around, I'll give you an idea or two to start you off:

In Woolworths, a CFL bulb costs around the $5.00 mark, occasionally you may find two to a pack for that price, but in general, Woolworths is a grocery store not an electrical/hardware store. Going to Bunnings I can pay $9.00 for a blister pack of four of the same wattage CFL, and if you go to a discount store you can pick up two packs for $3.00 sometimes.

As the article also states, CFL are a fluorescent tube based light and include some mercury. Better to recycle these and return the mercury to the manufacturing process than let it seep through the water table from the landfill to your water...

BONUS POINTS: If you realise that by buying a solar panel and a gel battery and running CCFL light bulbs outside, you can have a garden lighting system that is as well lit as a fluorescent lighted garden, for no further outlay, no further energy costs, and no further pollution. I've been using this system with a small 300mm X 300mm 4W solar panel and a cheap $20 gel battery for a year, and it lasts well into the wee hours of the morning, I have a little timer on it so it turns on around 8PM and off again at 2AM and it has never let us down. And it has cost $0.00 in electricity or pollution since then.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local:
My second find of the month involves buying local and buying fresh. Don't think "oh, that's a simple concept, why is he bothering?" and dismiss it. This is at one swoop the best thing you can do for your quality of life, and if you don't do it you pretty much deserve what you get.

It's so simple - ask at your corner store, your grocer, your butcher, your supermarket - "Is there a local produce section please?" and if there is, buy whatever you can from there over the shiny offerings from the "national warehouses ensuring that you get the freshest produce ever."

Anything you can do to break the large supermarket chains' holds on produce markets, will result in a better quality of life for you and your family. If your local "SuperHugeMarket" isn't selling those tomatoes that they've had in the chiller room for the last eight months so they can name their own price for tomatoes this season, they will stop doing it. Their price of tomatoes will go up, but your local markets will have reasonably priced - and more importantly, fresh and healthy - tomatoes.

If you can do this, and avoid the trap of preservative-laden or "convenient" produce, you're taking a step towards a healthier life. If you purchase a copy of my Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, you'll be making another.

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