Going Green and Saving Green with the Right Home Lighting Choices

 By: Sam Braidley
Everyone knows that by decreasing the amount of energy you use in the home, the better it is for your light bill, as well as for the environment. Although you can save a lot of energy by shutting off lights when you're not using them, choosing the right kind of light bulbs is also a major way to reduce energy consumption. If you replace as few as 15 of the energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs in your home with the newer, more efficient light bulbs, you can save $50 or more every year! There are going to be new lighting standards going into effect n 2012, which can be served by using Energy Star CFL, LED and incandescent light bulbs. But what is the difference between the lighting options, and what are your options?

Old vs. New Light Bulbs

Traditional light bulbs, which are also called incandescent (because they emit light by heating a special wire filament, causing it to emit an incandescent light), use a lot of energy. They use up to 90% of the energy used to power them through heat-ever notice how hot your light bulbs get, and how fast? That is an inefficient use of energy, meaning that around 90% of the money you spend on lighting your home or business with these light bulbs is just tossed out the window! The newer energy-efficient bulbs come in all the colors and light intensities you have become accustomed to, but by using newer technology, they are much cheaper to use in the long run.

Lighting Options

There are three main types of energy-efficient light: incandescent bulbs, CFLs (fluorescents), and LED (Light Emitting Diode). All three options can be found in any hardware or home improvement shop, and all three are much more energy-efficient than their more traditional counterparts. Here is a brief overview of each kind:

  • Energy-Efficient Incandescent Bulbs. These look just like to light bulbs you're used to at home, but they end up saving around 25% over the older models. They work better because the heat energy is contained around the filament by a capsule, instead of allowing it to radiate out and be wasted. They not only use a quarter less energy than the other bulbs, they also last around three times as long, so you save doubly! They come in the wattage and color choices you want and need, and can be used with dimmer switches.

  • CFL Bulbs. CFL, or compact fluorescent bulbs, are the spiral-shaped light bulbs you've been seeing more and more of lately. They use the same basic technology as you have always known from industrial lighting, but new developments in materials and conductivity have allowed these bulbs to be made appropriate for use in lamps and home light fixtures. They offer a whopping 75% savings over traditional incandescent bulbs, and last ten times as long as a normal old bulb. They are more expensive up-front, but they begin paying for themselves within the first month. They do come in a wide selection of lighting colors, such as warm (white grading into yellow) tones, which were previously not available in fluorescents. Some even have a cover to diffuse the light even more, and giving them a similar shape to the bulbs you're used to seeing at home, if you don't like the "curly" bulb's aesthetics. Not all can be used in dimmer switches, so check the labelling before buying these bulbs for use in a fan or room with a dimmer. Another fact about CFL bulbs: they do have a tiny amount of the toxic liquid metal, mercury, in them, so they must be recycled properly. Check www.epa.gov/cfl for more data about recycling CFL bulbs.

  • LED Bulbs. An LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is the same technology as that used on the indicator lights you see on your computers, cell phones, TVs, etc. This isn't the only way they can be used, though: there are now LED home lighting choices, meaning you can use them in lamps and normal light fixtures! This type of tech is developing rapidly and is one of the most energy-efficient choices around. Energy Star LED bulbs only use about 20-25% of the electricity of normal incandescent bulbs, and they last an amazing 25 times longer! LED bulbs can be used in a lot of items that use 40 or 60-watt bulbs, reflectors in recessed light fixtures, and smaller track lighting systems. Although they are more expensive, you can expect the prices to go down as technology gets more advanced and commonplace. You can really see the difference these light bulbs make on your energy bill at the end of the month, and even at the more expensive price currently, they would more than pay for themselves within a month or less!


  • When you are planning on making your home greener and cheaper, don't forget the light bulbs!
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