The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a guide to the best compact fluorescent light bulbs with the lowest mercury content and the highest energy efficiency.
Unfortunately there are a lot of cheap CFLs on the market, and most are even Energy Star labeled because Energy Star only rates energy efficiency - NOT mercury content.
EWG has set a higher standard in their testing for their Green Lighting Guide.
They also list bulbs you should NOT buy because they have failed the new 2008 standards for mercury content. These bulbs were still on the market until July 1, 2009 to give manufacturers a chance to clear their inventories due to the world financial crisis. They are listed on their Buyer Beware page.
There is also a handy Savings Calculator page where you can calculate your energy savings based on the number of incandescent bulbs you plan to change for CFLs, as well as a comparison chart comparing savings with halogen, CFLs, and LEDs compared to incandescent.
“Energy Star labels can be found on the most efficient, safest bulbs available, as well as on some of the worst, misleading the consumer and giving manufacturers zero incentive to make a greener bulb,” said EWG Senior Analyst Sean Gray. “The Obama administration needs to reinvigorate the Energy Star program to drive innovation in safety and efficiency of home and business lighting.”
You can do your part to push for the lowest possible mercury content in CFLs by signing on to EWG's Tell Energy Star: lower the mercury content in CFLs page to send a message that you join them in their concern about the dangers of mercury in your home.
Just remember that, while mercury in CFLs is a concern, the exponentially greater mercury pollution spewed from coal-fired power plants to generate the electricity to run an incandescent bulb is the reason you should be running to buy low mercury CFLs. Energy Star calculates that each (Energy Star rated) CFL generates 70 percent less mercury pollution than a comparable incandescent bulb.
EWG also has a handy When a Bulb Breaks page detailing the steps you should take if you do happen to break a CFL bulb in your home. Be sure to bookmark it - just in case.
CFLs that made the list to date:
Earth-Mate Mini Size Bulbs
Sylvania Micro-Mini Twist
Feit Ecobulb This product line has a full range of shapes - ALL of which are low mercury CFLs. You can even replace your Halogen PAR lamps with their products!
MaxLite Again, a full range of shapes in this product line.
Philips with Alto
Kitschy Kitchens is a blog where I critique the worst of the worst in kitchens. Poor design, an assault on the eyes, wrong colors, wrong materials; they all can be found there. Take an amusing detour to discover what you DON'T want in a kitchen.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I received this notice today and thought I would pass it on here. I have known Don Segale since he had a small shop with four employees in San Bruno back in the early '80s. He is one of the most reputable people in the industry and builds a quality cabinet with a catalyzed varnish finish.
If you are in the market for local custom cabinetry, Don is your man.
At Segale Bros. we will be trying something new based on an idea from the NKBA meeting a few months back at Standards Of Excellence in San Rafael.
We will be holding our first Consumer seminar.
This seminar is meant for homeowners and end-users with no knowledge of cabinetry. This is not meant as a sales opportunity, but as a tool for people to feel more comfortable with cabinet planning and terminology. As you can all probably agree, most homeowners are clueless when it comes to cabinets, and then get overwhelmed when the education begins. We would like to "soften the blow" by starting off with the fundamentals.
Please help us by passing the word along. If you or anyone has specific questions feel free to contact me directly:
firstname.lastname@example.org / 650-784-5202 mobile
Here is the information:
Segale Bros. Consumer Seminar
Please attend our first Consumer seminar entitled: "CABINET FUNDAMENTALS" on Saturday August 29th from 11:00am to 1:00pm in our showroom in Hayward. The seminar will be an overview of cabinets, including construction types, materials (including "green" options), accessories, case work and cabinet doors.
This seminar would be good for anyone planning to remodel a kitchen or is planning any major cabinetry project.
We will serve light refreshments.
Attendance is open to the general public, but reservations are required.
We are located at 1705 Sabre Street (@ Corsair) near the Hayward airport, Highway 92 and Highway 880.
Please phone 1-800-286-2915 to reserve your place.
Segale Bros. has been in business since 1976, and has been at the forefront of the cabinet industry for decades. We offer custom cabinets, cabinet refacing, closet and garage systems and home offices. We also represent two factory lines of cabinets: Medallion and Columbia.
Please visit www.segalebros.com for more information.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Below is an email I received from Yahoo Answers where I sometimes lurk and post answers:
At 10:01 PM 7/23/2009, you wrote:
Subject: Interior Design Complications
Message: Hi my name is Savannah. I was looking up some answers to interior design when i came across yours and you said you were a designer of some sort. I would like some advice if that's OK.
I'm 18. I live in Sacramento, and I really want to become a interior designer. But it seems like what I want to do more is be an interior decorator. I'm not sure what the difference is.
Also I am enrolled at American River College for the fall and trying to get into the Art Institute of Sacramento, but there are some things I hear about private schools that get me confused on what I should do?
Should I go to AI and take the courses for my major which are hands on but pay back around 60 to maybe 70 thousand dollars; or go to community college for two years then transfer to a UC?
Also is being a interior designer a family oriented job? I really want to have a family and also have a good job (interior design) but I don't want to live that life where you move because your job demands it.
I am really stumped at the moment and kind of freaking out because I originally wanted my college plan all laid out before I started, you know? I sense you're in the same area of interest that I want to be in. I could really use your advice.
Sorry for the long message. If you can give me any direction I will really appreciate it
I'm a Certified Kitchen Designer.
I have been in "the business" for 26 years, but never really went to college to learn my craft. Would you believe I actually went to college to become a nurse?
When I started working in kitchen and bath design there really weren't any schools teaching the discipline. I learned on the job.
As a certified designer (by the National Kitchen & Bath Association - NKBA), I am required to take a defined number of hours of continuing education courses annually to maintain my certification. It is necessary to educate and re-educate myself just to keep up with the many changes in my industry.
Nowadays, most new interior designers DO go to college to learn the basics of design and how it is documented and governed by the cities, counties and states we work in.
There is a lot to learn:
Professional interior design encompasses furnishings and fittings in commercial buildings, like office buildings and hotels. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) pretty much sets the standards for commercial interior design with their NCIDQ examinations. Designers who pass those (very difficult) exams get to use the designation ASID or FASID after their names. Students who wish to become commercial interior designers really must go to college to learn what they need to know to specify furnishings and carpeting, etc., that will pass fire and egress codes in commercial buildings.
Kitchen and bath designers are also interior designers. We work on mostly residential structures. We also design in commercial buildings when we do residential condos in high rise building, for instance. As a result we need to know a great deal about the building codes that apply to each kind of project we do.
There are other sub-specialties in interior design: Such as lighting designers, who must keep up with a very fast moving specialty.
Interior decorators usually design furniture, window coverings, paint and wallpaper, in residential settings. They do not usually get involved with structural changes to homes, although some do. They may have attended to a four year college or a community college. Or they can just hang a shingle, if homeowners are willing to pay for their talent.
There are no legal or educational requirements for calling oneself an interior decorator or and interior designer in the State of California. There is a certification program for interior designers in California that is administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). I am also certified by them as a Certified Interior Designer.
Most of us designers have families.
I suggest that you do some research to learn more about the various specialties and where you might fit best and what education you need. Talking to career counselors at the various colleges is good. Calling people who advertise in your local Yellow Pages or interiors magazines as interior designers and/or decorators might give you some insight. Ask if you might be permitted to drop by their offices or even "shadow" them for a day. I have allowed students to "shadow" me and they always thank me for the experience. Go to an ASID meeting. You'll have to pay to get in but the experience could tell you if you want to go in that direction. Same way for an NKBA meeting.
Good luck with your career Savannah.
I received this question today from NKBA (the National Kitchen & Bath Association):
In this economy, does sustainability need to give way to affordability?
I think there is a reason that, beyond all the "greenwashing" going on by manufacturers and their ad companies, green is so hot.
Americans are looking at the changes in the weather and the predictions by climate scientists. They are listening to our new president who emphasizes global warming and our predicament every chance he gets. They are assessing the excesses of the past and making plans to do better in the future.
Those of us who still have financial resources and secure jobs in the wake of our financial crisis would like to help in putting the country back to work in ways that we can control.
One of those ways is by greening our homes. Remodeling for energy efficiency is smart remodeling because the payback grows every time the cost of energy increases. Making our drafty and inefficient homes more comfortable is a welcome bonus too.
There is great potential that government incentives will also flow to those who remodel for energy efficiency. I think that will grow. I don't see the logic in similar incentives for kitchen remodeling, other than appliance rebates.
Back to NKBA's question: I think that kitchen remodeling will give way to remodeling for energy efficiency. Kitchen remodeling dollars will shrink, but green remodeling dollars will grow - a lot. Kitchens will still be done, but I predict that the excessive kitchens of the last years are a thing of the past. Kitchens to come will be simpler, less ostentatious, and less expensive. They will have sustainable features, and quite likely be powered by solar on the roof!