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2012 Leadership class; More power myths

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By Pat Wallace

Congratulations to all of our Chamber award winners pictured last week in the Local.

I also want to share information about our newest Leadership Henry County class. I will be going in detail about them in a future column, but today I want you to know who is learning about our beautiful county:  Jill Fallis, director of Homestead Nursing Center; Irene Smith; Helen Moore; Jo Ann Adams, owner of Sweet Home Spun; Joyce Meyer, webmaster; Kelly Dockter, Extension Assistant; Karen Shannon, and Connie Snowden.

Yes, it is a class of all women. I am anxious to see what project to benefit Henry County they will decide to do. 

This week we will continue our power myths as I consider this information that is not readily available to the community.  I was surprised by the information in this, and I hope you learn that some things are just not true even though we were all taught that they were.

MYTH: CFLs are more harmful for the environment than traditional bulbs because they contain mercury.

FACT: CFLs do contain a trace amount of mercury that can be emitted into the atmosphere if the bulb is broken. However, mercury is also emitted into the atmosphere as a result of electricity generation. Replacing traditional incandescent lights with CFLs will help to reduce mercury plant emissions because CFLs are more efficient and use less electricity. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical 60-watt incandescent bulb will result in 5.8 mg of mercury emissions over its lifetime. A comparable CFL bulb will emit only 1.8 mg — even if it ends up in a landfill.

Recycling CFLs will result in even lower mercury emissions. Visit the LG&E Website for more information.

MYTH: Leaving lights, computers and appliances on uses less energy than turning them on and off. 

FACT: In most cases, the small surge of power needed to start a device is much less than the power that is wasted by leaving it on when it is not needed.

MYTH: Duct tape is the best choice for sealing ducts.

FACT: Laboratory research reveals duct tape has very low durability when used to seal ducts. On new installations, duct tape will not last long regardless of surface preparation techniques applied.  Over time, duct tape will fall off as the adhesive breaks down from exposure to humidity and heat; it becomes dry, brittle and unable to maintain duct integrity. Mastic or metal-backed tapes (available at your local hardware or DIY retailer) are preferred choices for duct sealing, and improved air flow.

MYTH: Purchasing an efficient air-conditioner or furnace will automatically reduce energy bills.

FACT: This is true to an extent, but optimal savings will not be achieved unless the system is sized and installed correctly. Installing an efficient, but over-sized, system may negate much of the potential savings, while a poorly designed duct system will also impact efficiency and comfort. Whole house air sealing, attic and wall insulation, doors and windows play a critical role in correct sizing, heating and cooling efficiency.

MYTH: Dimming lights by 50 percent will cut lighting costs in half.

FACT: In reality, the relationship is not quite direct and the savings may be less than expected. Dimmed lights do use less power, but when lights are dimmed, the voltage drops and the filament becomes cooler. This causes a loss in overall efficiency.