eSTEM academy focuses light on CFLs
Students at the Summit Road High School eSTEM academy want to change the way residents illuminate their homes.
The Reynoldsburg students are encouraging residents to switch their lighting source from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient compact florescent light bulbs (CFL).
Nine environmental science students, who were participants in a national Lexus Eco Challenge contest to earn scholarships and money for the school, say CFLs reduce carbon and mercury emissions and cost less to use, despite their initial higher cost.
“Schools all around the U.S. choose environmental issues and try to solve them,” junior Mitzi Fernandez said. “We chose to spread awareness about alternative light bulbs that don’t cause as much harm as standard light bulbs.”
The students were led in their effort by instructor Rich Ladowitz, who said high schoolers joined forces with Summit Road Elementary students to get the message out to as many people as possible.
eSTEM high schoolers brainstormed topics and focused on CFLs. They presented information to every elementary class and created a survey the younger students took home. Results were compiled and an American Electric Power website was used to personalize the information.
“Elementary students were the messengers,” Ladowitz said.
In the survey, the Green Lights student group asked how many standard and CFL light bulbs people have in their homes. According to respondents, the average standard bulb wattage was 60 and each household had an average of six CFLs and 26 standard light bulbs. The average use of each light bulb was approximately 10 hours per day.
CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs. A 20-watt CFL bulb gives off the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent. The General Electric Company reports by replacing a standard 60-watt bulb with a 13-watt CFL, residents can save $30 in energy costs over the life of a single bulb.
“If a single incandescent bulb is replaced by a CFL, a half-ton of CO2 will be kept out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb,” junior Alex Hudak said. “In fact, if every American home replaced just one light bulb, 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be kept out of the environment per year.”
Although consumers typically pay $2 to $4 for a CFL versus 30 to 40 cents for a standard incandescent bulb, they will eventually save money because CFLs last much longer than their counterparts. In some tests, compact fluorescents burned brightly for 10,000 hours, whereas the standard bulbs burned for just 800 to 1,500 hours.
Energy Star reports electricity from coal-fired power plants is often directed to light fixtures inside houses, but by using CFLs, consumers pull less electricity from the power grid, therefore decreasing the amount of coal that is burned. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and in a single year, the use of CFLs over incandescent bulbs removes as much greenhouse gas pollution as taking 2 million cars off the road.
Disposal of CFL bulbs takes extra care because they contain mercury and are considered hazardous household items, a category that includes paint, batteries and thermostats. They cannot be thrown away in household garbage. CFLs need to be taken to special recycling and disposal centers, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot stores.
For other options, contact a local waste management authority or call Earth911 at 1-800-CLEANUP to access a database of 100,000 recycling and hazardous waste collection locations for more than 170 different materials. The database is also available online at www.earth911.org.