Jan 24 2011

how many kids does it take to screw in a light bulb? [day 244]

My kids keep leaving lights on all the time.  Mostly in their rooms, but also other rooms, where I don’t have energy efficient lighting.  They weren’t always this way.  To make a point about electric costs and being wasteful, I used to charge them 25¢ each time they left a light on in the bathroom or in their bedroom.  At first, it was a nice offset to my utility bill, as they left the lights on frequently.  After a period of time, I got less money, as their habits started to change.  Over time, I stopped asking for payments, and over more time, their habits returned to forgetting to turn off lights and being wasteful again.  Time to regroup.

I could start charging them again, but I felt we needed something different.  Light bulb!!!  I had an idea.  I will educate them by showing them the utility bill, explain kilowatt hours and challenging them to a low utility bill.  If it’s lower than our projected amount, they get a fun dinner at Gattitown.  Also, because I thought they needed something tangible and a little out of pocket cost, I made them each buy 2 boxes of CF light bulbs.  This would allow me to switch out more of the bulbs we use frequently to save on energy costs.

We got the bulbs at Aldi.  They’re much cheaper there than anywhere else I could find.  You don’t have to buy yours there, but at least look to find them on sale, as many of the major retailers will run sales on them.  Aldi’s prices are half of what the other retailers charge for these.   I couldn’t find much info on this On brand off brand.  Ha!  Get it?  So far, these work as well as the other brands I have.  And I do have some of these I’ve been using for a while and they work great.

First, we replaced the 6 bulbs in the kids bathroom.  I replaced them with only 4 bulbs, and it’s still to bright, so much that the kids are complaining about it.  I’ll take one out, and that will have decreased the bathroom lighting cost overall by 87.5%.  Then I replaced all the lamp bulbs and the lights over my stove top.  I tried to replace the kitchen halogen lights, which have the standard bulb socket, however these won’t work, as the ballast on the bulb is too large to fit in the opening.  Bummer, because that would have been the biggest savings of all.

And don’t worry, I found a good home for all of the old bulbs, as they shouldn’t go to waste.  :)


Jan 16 2011

light bulb! an idea or just simply for light [day 234]

My friend that had the flood finally got to move back into her house yesterday.  As I was helping, I noticed the old bathroom light fixture sitting in the trash, with all of the old light bulbs still in it.  With the challenge, I can’t buy light bulbs, so I gladly unscrewed them all, placed them in an unwanted pink basket and brought them home.  I have 2 lamps that need bulbs.

I want to switch my bulbs over to the compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, but that requires purchasing them.  It’s great to do this, but throwing away good bulbs seems like a bad idea to me.  I plan to switch them out as they burn out, as they are better for the environment and they use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs.

I decided to count the number of bulbs and the types that I have in my house.  Here’s the analysis.  (Whatever, it only took 5 minutes)

  • Incandescent – 43
  • Compact Fluorescent – 23
  • LED – 13
  • Halogen – 24
  • Low Watt – 8
  • Fluorescent tubes – 2

Dang!  I have a lot of lights in my house!  Only 41% of my lighting is energy efficient.  Using an energy star calculator, replacing all of the non-energy efficient bulbs in my house would cost just under $500, retail price.  The halogens would pay for themselves in 1 year in energy savings.  The incandescents will pay for themselves in 14 months.  So the big question is, do you replace them right away or do you replace them as they burn out?  Or some people might even be wondering if they should replace them at all?  What are the pros and cons here?  Let’s put these bulbs head to head and see what makes the most sense.

Pros: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • Saves money on your energy consumption. Up to 75% savings on CF’s and 90% on LED’s.
  • Much better for the environment. LED’s have no toxic materials in them and require no special disposal procedures.  CF’s help prevent the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Lamp life. LED’s last ten’s of thousands of hours, CF’s last approximately 6,000-15,000 hours, incandescents last approximately 750-1,250 hours, halogens last approximately 2,000 hours.  The life span of energy efficient bulbs are substantially longer than the non-energy efficient bulbs.  This makes the initial higher cost of the bulb a good value.
  • Costs. When factoring the bulb costs and the energy costs together, these save a lot of money in the long run.

Cons: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • The bulbs cost a lot more to purchase. The purchase price is higher, usually 2 to 5 times more.  The upfront cost is more, although the long term savings should be taken into consideration.
  • Lights on. CF’s take time to “warm up” and the light gets to it’s full brightness in about a minute.  For some people this is an issue, but I’ve gotten used to it.  It’s actually nice in the morning when you first wake up not to have bright lights in your face.
  • Lighting ambiance. LED’s light lacks in brightness and because of the light temperature, has a bluish hue to them.  Incandescents have a warm, yellow light.  Incandescents also have directional capabilities that the others don’t have, which is why you see a lot of halogen fixtures in stores and restaurants.  Lots of progress is being made with the energy efficient bulbs in this respect.
  • Disposal. Disposal of CF bulbs is tricky, as they contain a small amount of mercury.

For me, the pros outweigh the cons.  I will continue to replace the bulbs as they burn out with energy efficient bulbs when I can.  When the shopping challenge is over, I’ll consider replacing a portion of these that are in fixtures I use frequently.  Some of the accent lighting fixtures I don’t use often can wait.

Disposal and recycling issues. The recycling and disposal of the CF’s is still not easy.  (Jason, better late than never on this post)  Although there are many recycling programs, there aren’t many drop off places and the city recycling program doesn’t pick these up from your house.  It’s just not easy to dispose of these bulbs right now.  There are, however, two major retailers that participate in the recycling and disposal of these bulbs.  They are The Home Depot and Ikea.  Yes, it’s a little bit of work to save your bulbs and take them to the store, but you can plan it with a needed trip to that store.  Get together with you neighbors and take turns making a “bulb disposal run” each month.   Given the life span of these bulbs, it’s not a huge time sacrifice, and given the size of them, it’s not much of a space sacrifice either.  :)


Dec 31 2010

what would I buy today… if I could? [day 218]

  • Some setting materials for the pile of slate in my driveway.  I can make two countertops and finish my patio.
  • Some gray paint.
  • Caulk and wood filler.  (I got liquid nails for Christmas!!  Thanks Lloyd and Susan!)
  • A modern bathroom light fixture.

I guess I would only be buying stuff to repair and finish my house.  Nothing big.  The big stuff, I try to find used, like the modern light fixture.  Impossible to find used, even on eBay.  The couple I found were WAY expensive.  Overall, my shopping habits have changed.  It’s much easier to live with my means and to be able to help others that don’t have enough “means” to cover the basic necessities.


Dec 29 2010

a year in pictures [day 216]

Honestly, some of these might be more than a year old, but they’re all the same, year after year… lots of stuff.  Most of these were taken in abandoned places, houses, farms, buildings, vehicles, you name it.  No matter where I go with my camera, I always find lots of stuff to shoot.  There’s something about each place that intrigues me, saddens me, excites me and disappoints me.  Take a look.


Nov 29 2010

paint it… black? [day 187]

I’ve written a little tune to the 1966 Rolling Stones song “Paint It Black”.  This story started with me wanting to paint my front door…

I see a blue door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I hear the the canvas calling from the kitchen wall
I have to turn my head while the color calls

I see a line of cans and none are painted black
With brushes and ideas both always coming back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look my way
Like a new born baby it just happens ev’ry day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my blue door and it has been painted black
Maybe then the paint will fade, not an artist saint
It’s not easy facin’ up when your whole world is paint

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the settin’ sun
My love for paint still with me before the mornin’ comes

I see a blue door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I hear the the canvas calling from the bedroom wall
I have to turn my head while the color calls

Hmm, hmm, hmm,…

I wanna see it painted, painted colors
Black as night, color highlight
I wanna see the sun blended from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted colors
Yeah!

I’m a paint hoarder.  Yes, I’m publicly admitting this.  I wanted to paint my front door yesterday, as I’m tired of the bright blue with the orange bricks.  I wanted a dark gray color, but with my challenge, I needed to use the paint I had.

Now I have a lot of paint, so no problem, right?  Wrong…

Of my 100+ gallons, that I do use on occasion, 90% of them are bad, either molded or dried up.  In efforts to still use some of the paint, I added some water to the latex ones that were too thick.  Some of the paints were good, but I didn’t have enough.  Honestly, I wanted to buy some paint yesterday.  I didn’t, but here’s what happened.   Continue reading


Oct 9 2010

crazy idea or inexpensive and fun? [day 136]

Back on day 103, my friend across the street called asking for some ideas about painting her kids bathroom.  I’m sure Diane is thinking… *note to self*, don’t ask Jody a decorating question unless you want to remodel your entire house.

The bathroom turned out great! Here’s the story… in photos.  :)

Idea. “Light bulb” as Gru would say in Despicable Me.  Of course you can paint your bathroom, and here’s 50 other ideas you can do in there.  Kids bathroom, shared by a sister and brother, needs to be good for both, not girly and not manly.

Color. Color pallet?  One wants black and white, the other wants red and gray.  No problem!

Work. Dave is one of those get-it-done-now people.  He got started right away.  This idea started with texturing and painting the walls and turned into an entire remodel of the room.  Demolition Dave has it under control.  he had the whole room torn out in less than an hour.   Continue reading


Sep 6 2010

why I don't get invited to the neighbors house too often… [day 103]

So my friend Diane calls yesterday and says, “I thought about painting the kids bathroom with black and white stripes.  I painted over wallpaper, what do you think?”  What I think is that’s a great opportunity to brainstorm great ideas and use someone else’s house as a blank canvas!  LOL

After brainstorming, her husband, Dave, starts ripping everything out of the bathroom.  This was my first time to see someone act like I do with a home project.  It was a little bit scary.  It was like looking in a mirror, but wait, yeah… we pulled that out of the bathroom too!

During the remodeling chaos, after Dave got over the fact that he really hates me (in a nice way, of course) for starting all of this, we had some good conversations about the challenge.  Tool sharing is something we all do on our street already.  I had some leftover joint compound and floor stain for them.  He offered to help me with my screen dilemma.  I offered to take the builders grade light bar off their hands to make a dining room chandelier.  Then we decided the kids might like to do a crazy floor like my bathroom floor.  Group art project!

By sharing stuff, we’re all saving money and we have less junk sitting around.  Here’s a couple of photos, the first is their bathroom floor after the ‘rip-out’, and the others are of my bathroom floor, the inspiration for the kids bathroom floor.  (magazine cutouts and decorative paper)  No, it’s not good for resale, but all you have to do is slap some tile over it, and bingo!  Instant resale value.