Have You Overlook An Important Area When Saving Energy?

One of the areas that seems the least understood when using green products is the “carbon footprint”. To illustrate this point about green products, a simple story about the use of CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) bulbs may help. When in a restaurant the other day, I noticed that the spoon was missing from the place setting. I looked around and it appeared it was the same all over the restaurant.

When my server came over and asked what I wanted to eat, I asked about the spoons. I was informed that the chain’s “corporate” office had informed all the restaurants that the busboy, when putting down place setting, was not allowed to put a spoon on the setting. Now I must say this does look pretty odd, mostly since I grew up with a spoon included with the setting. I checked with someone who still teaches etiquette classes, and yep, it is still required.

I asked if she knew why this change had occurred and why no green products like CFL bulbs. I was told that in order to conserve energy that spoons were only given to customers that would use them. It appears they believe that it costs a lot to clean an unused spoon. So the possibility of cleaning an unused spoon was removed. And yet how odd, no investment in green products that could save money such as CFL bulbs.

I must, say this is a little short sighted on the company’s part. Most of us go to a restaurant to eat. We assume a comfortable, warm, satisfying environment, not to have to stress out trying to get the server’s attention so we can get the long lost forgotten spoon. OK, a little melodrama, but the point is why should I have to ask for something that has always been there? This cost saving if there is any would be in pennies per year while using CFL bulbs would be in dollars.

While pondering this, I happened to look up. Having written a few articles on energy savings, I noticed that they were still using incandescent bulbs. From where I sat I could count more than fifty bulbs burning energy as I waited for my order, and no green products like CFL bulbs in sight. Everywhere I looked and in every room that a customer had access, there were no green products in use. If they were trying to save money, you would think some green products like energy saving CFL bulbs would be used.

It looked like each incandescent light bulb was running around 75 watts. I inquired as to the hours of this store and was told they were open 138 hours a week.

Now it does not take a mathematician to do a little basic math. Let’s compare a chain using incandescent bulb vs. the same chain using CFL bulbs. If we take the 50 incandescent bulbs and multiply it by the bulb’s wattage, it would equal the watts consumed per hour or 50*75= 3,750. Now we know the store is open 138 hours a week, so multiplying this by the watts per hour, we would get 517,500 watts consumed per week. Finally multiply this by the weeks in a year, and we get 517,500*52 = 26,910,000 or 27 megawatts without green products.

Looking up the restaurant chain up on the web reviled they owned 88 stores. So, figuring 50 bulbs is average and everything remains the same, a whopping 88 * 26,910,000 = 2,368,080,000 watt hours or 2,368.08 megawatt hours is used per year for this chain of stores without using green products or any CFL bulbs.

What if we used one of the new green products, the CFL bulb, instead of the incandescent bulb how much could we save? Let’s take a look. We know that a comparable CFL would be in the 18 watt range based on the Energy Star tables. If we replace the 75 watts in the above equation with 18 watts CFL we would get; 50*18*138*52*88 = 568 megawatts consumed per year. This would save the chain about 2368-568 = 1,800 megawatt hours per year. I would say this would be a pretty good investment in green products, don’t you?

Michael’s website is dedicated to new green products check it out at going green


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Originally posted 2009-09-05 13:20:32.



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