Green builders don’t act so green

Eco Smart enegry smart homes


 This is a transcript from an email tip I sent to the Consumerist 

We built a new home in Texas about two years ago. The builder told us it was an “Eco smart” house and that it was  “Green Built TX” certified.  They had yard signs and brochures to explain how green the builder is. We were shocked to find out most of the light bulbs in out house were incandescent.  Isn’t replacing bulbs with CFLs the simplest, most basic way to save energy?

 Our bathrooms, for example, have a lighting fixture with six lights, which means every minute the light is on, those six lights are consuming 360 watts. I replaced all six lights with 9w CFLs, now consuming 54 watts total – almost 7 times less energy. The CFL light bulbs are only about $1.50 at Home Depot or WalMart, I am sure the builder can get a better deal. I had to replace over 70 light bulbs in our house (picture of old light bulbs attached). I probably spent $150 total, a number that is absolutely insignificant relative the price we paid for the house.  

The kitchen area, for example has 4 light bulbs, all controlled by a single switch, consuming 240 watts instead of 52 watts now with 13w CFLs. Every home in the neighborhood has an outdoor light outside of the garage with an average of three 60-watt light bulbs that are usually left on overnight. That’s 18,000 watts consumed for every 100 homes. All night long. Just for outdoor lights.
What is worse, is that we threw away over 70 perfectly good incandescent light bulbs that I paid for (when I bought the house), which are by now in some landfill. In addition, I had to go through the inconvenience of buying and replacing 70 light bulbs, not including some I have not been able to change because they are too high and I cannot reach them with a normal sized ladder.
I called the builder, who told me the “certification” does not require all light bulbs to be CFL, just a certain percentage. The builder probably installs enough CFLs to meet the minimum requirement to be certified.


Selling “green” homes with incandescent light bulbs is deceptive and misleading. Building new homes that consume so much additional electricity to save $100 is absolutely irresponsible in this age. At the very least I would have liked to have the option to pay $100 for the upgrade, which would save thousands of dollars over a few years in energy cost and is the right thing to do.
I suggest selling new homes with incandescent light bulbs should be illegal.
My other idea is to offer homes with solar-powered A/C units. After all, most of the time you need the A/C running in Texas there is plenty of sun shining. It would be much more affordable than full solar systems which require many more panels plus a battery…but that’s a subject for another post. Maybe.