Keith Ng – Being a dick about Earth Hour

This is hilarious – Keith Ng of the Public Address, in simple calculations, takes apart the whole Earth Hour project: 


How much can you save during Earth Hour? If you completely stop using electricity in your house, by my rough but generous estimate, you’d saved about 2,800Wh and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 420g.

If you change a 75W incandescent lightbulb to an energy efficient equivalent, you’d save 65,700Wh per year (assuming it’s on for 3 hours a day). That works out to 9,950g of greenhouse gases. That’s one lightbulb…

Blacking out the entire house for one hour every year = 420g reduction per year.
Replacing one lightbulb with an energy saving equivalent = 9,950g reduction per year.

To put it indelicately: Fuck Earth Hour.

While I’m not quite in agreement with his support for banning incandescent bulbs (as CFL’s are not an equivalent replacement given the different qualities of light), Keith puts a very good argument forward, which is, as always, also very entertaining to read. I recommend reading the whole article



5 responses to “Keith Ng – Being a dick about Earth Hour”

  1. richard Avatar

    yes I’ve heard of people arguing that incandescaent blulbs give a different light than the more efficient florescent bulbs. I guess there was a change in light quality from candlelight to electricity too … but to be honest I haven’t actually noticed any significant difference when I changed all of my lights.

  2. “I guess there was a change in light quality from candlelight to electricity too”

    Actually, candle to oil lamp to gas to… and the difference in quality of light (as opposed to quantity) is much less than you would think, as each development was to a point source, of warm colour temperature. The introduction of the fluorescent was the real change in quality – and although much more energy efficient than even today’s CFL’s, they rarely made it into the home for obvious reasons.

    Modern CFL’s have been made to mimic the colour temperature of tungsten lighting (supposedly human friendly – but how much of that is habit anyway), but they do not deal with the point source effect of the incandescent (although, again, the much more compact nature of them does bring them a little closer).

    The whole thing will probably be irrelevant in the next 5 years or so, as we move to LEDs anyway… Bring on the ban when that technology is sufficiently developed…

  3. They are different – there is no doubt about it.

    It is not possible to focus CFL produced light to the same degree as even a generic tungsten incandescent bulb – that’s to say, the CFL is pretty useless as a point source or spot light. In most domestic uses this is irrelevant (although it does give a completely different general lighting aesthetic – check out your shadows for a start), and using CFL would appear to be the only sensible thing to do.

    Whether the loss of choice about lighting aesthetic is outweighed by the environmental benefits (and I think it probably is), is open to debate – but it should be informed debate.

    All that aside, the factor that has prevented me from switching to CFL’s is the uncertainty of their compatibility with light fixtures in my home. Again, CFLs cannot be considered as a direct replacement for incandescent because incandescent bulbs can operate at very high temperatures, and can thus be used in unventilated fixtures. A CFL lamp in an unventilated fitting will have a considerably shortened life-span Thus, they might use less energy over that life-span, but those savings will not outweigh replacement costs – nor probably the embodied energy used to create each cfl lamp (they really are sophisticated little appliances).

    So, I need to check my recessed downlight fittings to see whether they are ventilated, and then I need to test the scenario with up to six CFL lamps (seeing as each room has multiple fittings on the same circuit…). Then of course, I have to consider the fact that some rooms are on dimmer switches – I have to purchase special (non-subsidised) CFL lamps to retain full control of my ‘lit environment’).

    The cost of replacing the lighting fixtures in my home is too prohibitive for me to even consider that as an option, and the cost (and energy) used in doing so would probably not be recouped before I move on to a new house…

    So, come this Earth Hour, I’ll just simply switch off my lights and feel good about my activities for a whole year, until I can reaffirm my goodness a year later with another hour in the dark…

  4. Perhaps in addition to the government supporting a change to CFL lamps (yes I know that one’s on hold) they should also ban recessed lights – or at least the ones which mean that not only is changing to a more efficient light source near impossible – but as I understand it they make it impossible to insulate ceiling spaces effectively?

    and M-D – yeah I reckon LEDs will be the answer too.

  5. OK – so I only dimmed for the big event – I was worried that if I had turned the lights off completely, the consequent lack of incandescent heating would have required me to turn on the fan heater to keep me toasty and snug…

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