Turn off a light, and instantly start saving energy. Many of us usually have at least one light on in an empty room. Right now, every bedroom upstairs is lit up, but my family is all downstairs. Be right back.

Now that you’ve started reducing your environmental impact, take it one step further. Plan on changing your hot, inefficient incandescent light bulbs to LEDs (light emitting diodes). LED lights (straight or round bulbs) can use 80% less energy and last 20 times longer than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

Use LEDs outside too!

Relax, you don’t have to do a complete conversion overnight! As your old bulbs burn out, replace them with energy efficient versions. Start with the lights you have on for long periods of time, indoors and out, for maximum impact.

My energy company tells me that if each home in North Carolina replaced one standard light bulb with a more efficient version, the energy saved would light over 86,000 homes for a year. That’s a big savings for a little change!

TIP: A watt is the amount of energy used. A 10 Watt LED is equivalent to a 60 Watt incandescent bulb.

Why Save Electricity?

Most air pollution is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which include coal, oil, natural gas, and gasoline. Power plants burn these fuels to make electricity. Not only do fossil fuel power plants create air pollution, they also use lots of water (for cooling off), and remember, the coal and oil natural resources come from mining, which destroys animal and plant habitats.

Some of the gases produced from making electricity, like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and heavy metals, get in the environment and are harmful to human health, as well as plants and animals. Other gases, like carbon dioxide, contribute to the climate change. In fact, making electricity accounts for one-third of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the US, and continues to increase.

Sometimes I imagine I have my personal little pollution stream rising from my local power plant. As I click off a light in an empty room, or turn down the thermostat, I can see that stream getting smaller in my mind. Then I imagine other people doing the same thing to their little streams!