December 12, 2007

Al Gore's Nobel Acceptance Speech

Al Gore's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech is well worth listening to.

"We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization ... But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly."

"...we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: "Mutually assured destruction.""

"It is time to make peace with the planet."

"For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?"

"When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us. "

So let us ... say together: "We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act."

December 7, 2007

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

We're starting to think about putting up the Christmas tree for the holidays. The thought of getting all those tangled light strings out and working again made me wonder if there might not be a better way. It turns out there is. The Rockefeller tree in NYC has gone green and is using LED Christmas tree lights.

So I thought, why not? I could certainly replace our own incandescent Christmas tree lights with LED Christmas tree lights. Consumer Reports published an article on the topic this month.

You can get LED Christmas tree lights with the same size bulbs as the traditional incandescent small and large bulbs. The LED strings which replace the small size incandescents cost more per bulb, about 50% more per bulb, but the energy savings is immense.

The small bulb LEDs use 98% less energy than the small bulb incandescents. They cost about 20 cents per string per season to run and save about $14 in energy costs per string per season.
The large bulb LEDs strings use 99% less energy than the large bulb incandscents. They cost about 20 cents per string per season to run and save about $18 in energy costs per string per season.

You can also get LED Christmas tree lights in the smaller mini-size. The mini-size strings cost about the same price per bulb as the mini incandescents, but they use 77% less energy. They cost about 45 cents per string per season to run and save about $2 in energy costs per string per season.

In addition to energy savings, the LEDs are much more reliable and durable. All the LEDs tested by Consumer Reports were working after 4,000 hours of use. Every incandescent string had one or more bulbs burn out before 2,000 hours of use. Anyone who has spent hours trying to figure out which bulbs need to be replaced, knows the times savings that comes from having strings of lights that just work every year!

The LEDs run much cooler as well, reducing the fire risk.

Consumer Reports figures are based on an electricity cost of about 11 cents per kilowatt hour (the national average.) I've adjusted the energy savings numbers above to reflect my local electric rates which are about 18 cents per kilowatt hour.