Shedding Some Light on Energy Saving Bulbs

LED bulb and simple light bulbs.Green background

Lighting is a major necessity for everyone, but the type of lighting and time of lighting are important to manage energy use. Different types of light bulbs, like incandescent, halogen, CFL, and LED, use different amounts of electricity to provide the same amount of light. Incandescents are at the high end of the spectrum while LEDs are at the low end for energy use. But even within each type, the amount of time a light runs can affect energy consumption. That may seem like common sense, but sometimes it’s better to leave certain lights on rather than turning them off when leaving a room.

Incandescent lights have been banned in the US as of 2007. These bulbs used a metal filament with an electric current running through it to make it glow. About 90% of the energy consumed is wasted as heat and a single bulb can consume about 60 watts per hour. Halogen bulbs work like incandescent bulbs, but with the addition of halogen gas to reduce the amount of energy required by a small amount. Both of these bulbs should be turned off as soon as you leave a room, and it’s best to keep them off as much as possible in the summer to reduce the excess heat generated. The extra heat let off by bulbs causes your AC to work harder to cool the room down, resulting in higher energy costs.

CFLs are a little bit different. CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs are miniature fluorescent tubes. They are filled with a gas that illuminates when exposed to an electric current. They use about 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, but repeatedly turning them on and off drastically reduces their effective life span. A common belief is that CFLs should be left on if you will be leaving a room with them for less than 15 minutes. However, the standards of bulb construction are higher these days, and thus unless you will be gone for less than 5 seconds, you can turn the bulb off. But again, constant on and off cycling affects the life of the bulb, so leaving them on for a bit may in the long run be more beneficial than turning them off and on again.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs, on the other hand, are not affected by constant cycling. LED bulbs also consume about 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and last a whole lot longer, some bulbs lasting up to 100 times longer. LEDs are perfect for use with motion and daylight sensors, allowing the lights to be turned on only when they’re truly needed, without worry of forgetting to turn them off. They turn on instantaneously, unlike CFLs which can require a warm up period. They also are very resistant to abrupt movements and impacts that would otherwise cause an incandescent filament to snap. LEDs are perfect in any climate, hot or cold, dry or humid, and they’ll save a bundle on electricity consumption.


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