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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Is It Time to Switch to LEDs?

Dear Source:

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I was in line at Plaza Extra West on St. Croix when I noticed the person in front of me buying two incandescent bulbs. He did not look like a person who should throw money away, so I asked, politely, why not CFLs? He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I have been where he was. Buying something more expensive might save you money down the road, but the problem was having enough money to get down the road.
On this occasion there was a solution. I had changed all my household bulbs from CFLs to LEDs (light emitting diodes). I could not afford not to change. There is a LED light bulb sitting on my desk. The package says I will save $134.75 over the lifetime of the bulb. That is based on stateside electric prices where they average about one fifth of what we pay in the Virgin Islands. I am not a rich man, and if I can save over $670 with the purchase of one light bulb for $11, I am going to do so.
I told the gentlemen I would meet him back in the parking lot and give him all my CFLs that I had changed at my house. Now, the fact is, I was being a nice guy, helping him cut down on his electric bill. The fact, also, is I just wanted to get rid of the darn things. The time for CFLs is nearing its end. I never really liked the things. That curley Q design; they always seemed to break easy; they never seemed bright enough. And then there is the mercury.
People have played down the mercury aspect of CFLs because energy efficiency seemed to offset the affect on the environment of the trace element of mercury. Actually, there is not enough mercury in them that I worried about breaking one and contaminating the house. However, when you think of thousands upon thousands of them going into landfills, that is a little different story. And, now we have an alternative.
The technology of LEDs has made great strides in the last three years. The light they offer is top notch now and their price keeps dropping. The shape is also much friendlier to lamps and outdoor fixtures. Also, being a somewhat clumsy person, it is not unknown for me to drop a bulb when changing it. The CFL breaks almost always; the LED almost never. And about changing it. I don’t know if they will live up to the 10 year guarantee on some of them, but none of them have burned out yet and I feel good about them.
The economics of LED light make sense, but revisiting that savings figure mentioned earlier, it probably relates to changing out an incandescent bulb and I was changing out CFLs. Still, the LEDs use about half the electricity that the CFLs do, so for Virgin Islanders changing from CFLs to LEDs make sense.
Even, if it was a break even game, I would probably make the change. Our dependence on fossil fuel scares me. By some calculations the people of the world are consuming 80 million barrels of oil per day; 80 million barrels a day. That is a lot of oil.
We can’t verify exactly how much oil is left in most of the Mideast countries. There are reasons for those countries to overstate their reserves. Look at Indonesia. It was once an exporter of oil, now it is an importer. The oil fields of the North Atlantic are not doing so great any more either. Oil prices are high now. Usually, when oil prices are high, higher production kicks in, that has not happened this time around. I wonder why that is. When we start drilling for oil a few miles deep in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, it is no longer cheap. I won’t talk much about tar sands oil, only to say when you do things like extracting oil from tar sands, the equation of Energy In to Energy Out starts to become a factor. And finally there is the United Arab Emigrates, a country producing three million barrels of oil a day and selling those barrels for a high price. The country is building a solar city — Masdar. Do they know something we don’t?
Now, my changing to LEDs is not going to stop the world from running out of oil, but it is a start. I have friends who tell me that the time for LEDS has not arrived, yet; they are still expensive. But, I still wish I was able to give that gentleman at Plaza Extra West parking lot LEDs instead of those old fashioned CFLs.

Don Buchanan, St. Croix

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