Energy Saving Light Bulbs: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask
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Energy Saving Light Bulbs: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

Here's everything you ever wanted to know about energy saving light bulbs. CFLs can save you as much as $600 a year.

Lighting our homes is one of the biggest drains on our home energy budgets.

The Standard Light Bulb.

Old, Thomas Alva Edison's marvellous inventions, the incandescent light bulb, is one of the most wasteful inventions known to mankind. They do a terrific job lighting our homes but at a big cost. They do a more efficient job of heating our homes than they do lighting our homes because 90 to 98 percent of the electrical energy they consume is converted into heat and not light. During the cold months, the heat might not be such a terrible thing, but during the hot month the heat produced by all the incandescent light bulbs adds to the load placed on out air conditioning system, placing an even bigger drain on our energy budget. To put it another way, only 2 to 10 percent of the electrical energy consumed by the incandescent light bulb is converted into the desired energy form, light.

The Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulb.

The compact fluorescent light bulb is a much more efficient device than the incandescent light bulb, converting approximately 75 percent of the electrical energy it consumes into useful light energy. By now, everyone knows that CFLs are more efficient and will save them money, but few people know just how much money they will save. Many people hesitate to make the switch because they can't see beyond the upfront cost of making the switch. A typical 27 Watt CFL, the equivalent of a 100 Watt incandescent bulb cost about $3.00 to $5.00 about the same as you would pay for four to six 100 Watt incandescent light bulbs. That a big difference, in upfront cost, but every $1 you invest in CFLs can save you up to $6 in energy cost. Let's look at this energy savings in yet another way. Typically home lighting is used for 6 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a yet. At an energy cost of $0.32 per Kwh, one 75-Watt incandescent bulb will cost you $54 every year. Compared to a 20-Watt CFL which produces the same amount of light which consumes about $14 in electrical energy. Considering that a CFL will last four years when used for six hours a day, your actual cost per year is $15.25, for a savings of $38.75 per year. Remember, that is the amount that you will save for just one light. Now multiply that, by the number of lights, you use in your home. Typical savings can quickly add up to $300 to $600 every year.

The Halogen Light Bulb

The Halogen light bulb isn't as energy efficient as the CFLs, being roughly 10 to 40 percent more efficient than the old incandescent light bulb, but they are often the best compromise when the lights are controlled by dimmer switches. The standard CFL isn't dimmable, just as a standard fluorescent light fixture isn't dimmable because of their built-in ballast. There are special CFLs that can be dimmed with a standard dimmer, but they are much more expensive and they don't provide as smooth a control over light intensity that most people are accustomed to. Halogen light bulbs, on the other hand, are nothing more than incandescent light bulbs with some added technology, so they dim smoothly.

The Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lamps.

The Light Emitting Diode Lamps are the new kids on the block where home lighting is concerned. They are unquestionably more economical than the standard incandescent bulb because a 12-Watt LED bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60-Watt incandescent bulb but they aren't as proficient at projecting light in a 360 degree pattern as the old incandescent bulbs are. The LED bulb will last you roughly 10,000 hours, so, at 6 hours a day, one LED should last approximately 50 years.

The Safe Handling Of Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL and Standard)

All fluorescent light bulbs, standard or CFLs, contain a small amount of mercury, which is toxic to humans and pets and an environmental pollutant. You can't dispose of a spent fluorescent light bulb as you would an incandescent light bulb by throwing it in the trash. It's against the law to dispose of fluorescent light bulbs by throwing them in the trash. Many hardware stores and home centers, like Home Depot, are now Sponsoring collection centers.

If, a fluorescent bulb breaks, you need to keep everyone out of the room until it has been properly cleaned up. Begin the cleanup by airing the room out for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Then, wearing a dust mask and heavy work gloves, sweep up the broken glass and other debris. Then swab the area with a wet paper towel and place everything in a glass container with a sealable top. Take everything to a collection center or to your hazardous waste dump.

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Comments (3)

Thanks for this comparison. Lots of people will find it very useful. I enthusiastically bought lots of CFLs until I found that they're a hazardous waste and that it takes a long time for them to be bright enough to be useful. The ones I have installed are still in place and I expect to replace the remaining incandescent with CFLs as they burn out, but I certainly hope that by the time it's no longer possible to buy incandescent bulbs that the greener alternatives will have developed all the features that people like about the old energy hogs.

Excellent and another great share, Jerry.

This is a great article. I'm embarassed to admit I didn't know it was illegal to dispose of CFL bulbs in the garbage...but I don't use them anyway. I have replaced all my incandescent bulbs with LED's. Sometimes I miss the softer, yellow light emmited by the incandescent bulbs, but the energy savings (and less impact on the environment) is worth it.