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fluorescent lights and why it’s worth saving resources

A common criticism of fluorescent lights is the inability to use dimmers, as mentioned in Julien Goodwin’s blog.

However with some thought at the time the lights are installed this problem can be solved. The first thing to keep in mind is that an infinite number of levels of illumination (analogue scale) is not really required. In most cases two or three levels should do.

If you have two compact fluorescent lights that use 5W and 10W then you have the options of 5W, 10W, and 15W. If you have a large room to light (such as a lounge room) which needs 30W of fluorescent lighting for full illumination then you could have six 5W globes dispersed and have anything from one to six of them turned on to give different levels of illumination.

Of course if you don’t plan electrical work then it’s easiest to just use incandescent lights in those areas. As long as the areas that use the most light for the longest time have fluorescent lighting it shouldn’t make too much difference.

In response to a post on Planete Beranger, saving energy DOES matter. Sure you saving a few KWh isn’t going to make much difference on it’s own, but when a million other people do the same it all adds up.

The lack of public transport in the US causes more problems for the country than just environmental damage. It hurts the economy by making it more difficult for people to get to work. It will hurt the defence forces in the (unlikely) event of an invasion (trains are the best way of moving large numbers of troops, heavy weapons, and military supplies. It also hurts the national interest in decreasing the ability to react to civil emergencies. For example the entire population of New Orleans could have been evacuated in time using a single platform of a European station. If every city had multiple stations that had a reasonable number of platforms and multiple redundant train lines then evacuating civilians and bringing in emergency equipment and workers would be very easy. In the Netherlands train lines often run on top of dikes, this means that the dikes are very strong (if they can sustain the weight of a freight train then they aren’t going to be washed away by a wave) and that trains can still operate while flood waters are rising. If New Orleans is to be rebuilt to it’s former glory then the Americans should consider a similar design.

Large cars are a temporary issue. As fuel prices rise people will choose smaller cars. Also hopefully people will start to realise that 4WD and SUV vehicles are actually less safe than cars and stop buying them for perceived safety.

The Chinese government doesn’t worry about the same environmental issues, however they have more agressive targets for renewable energy use than most countries. It’s not a matter of being nice (they aren’t), but of looking out for their own self interest. It’s a pity that the governments of the US, Australia, and EU countries have not yet done the same – but it will happen eventually.

As for supermarkets using open fridges, if the vent the heat outside the building then it will be just part of the building air-conditioning system. Every adult dissipates about 100W of heat when at rest, when shopping it would be more than 100W. Get 100 people in a supermarket (not the peak business time) and 10KW would have to be removed by the A/C system without counting heat from lights (fluorescent lights dissipate about half their energy as heat, they are much more efficient than incandescent lights but much less than LEDs),
and heat from other machinery.

Finally, if you want to see changes in government policy then join your local Green party!

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