An average household dedicates about 6%-13% of its energy budget to lighting. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. Timers and motion sensors save you even more money by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used.
In a typical residential or commercial lighting installation, 50% or more of the energy is wasted because:
– Illumination levels are too high.
– Lamp size and type are not optimized for their use.
– Lights remain on too long because of carelessness or inadequate control.
– The lighting system is dirty, antiquated, or inefficient.
– Replacing 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs could save you about $50 per year. Replace your old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified bulbs for the best quality in savings.
– They are available in sizes and shapes to fit in almost any fixture and provide the greatest savings in fixtures that are on for a long time each day.
– When remodeling, look for recessed light fixtures or “cans” which are rated for contact with insulation and are air tight (ICAT rated).
– When replacing incandescent bulbs from recessed light fixtures, use energy-efficient bulbs that are rated for that purpose. For example, the heat buildup in down lights will significantly shorten the life of spiral CFLs.
– Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures. They are available in many styles, distribute light more efficiently and evenly than standard fixtures, and some offer convenient features such as dimming.
– Controls such as timers and photocells save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.
– Install occupancy sensors, these inexpensive devices can reduce lighting costs by up to 40%, by simply turning off lights in unoccupied areas.
– Keep your curtains or shades open to use daylight instead of turning on lights. For more privacy, use light-colored, loose-weave curtains to allow daylight into the room. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight
Standard Incandescent bulbs work by using electricity to heat up a thin filament inside the bulb. As the filament heats up it glows producing light. The drawback to standard bulbs is that most of the energy consumed—over 80%—goes into creating heat, not light.
CFLs work on a totally different principle. They consist of two basic parts: a gas-filled tube (what many of us would call the “bulb”) and a ballast that contains the electronics. In simple terms, electricity from the ballast excites phosphors on the inside surface of the bulb; these phosphates in turn glow, producing light. Since CFLs don’t waste as much energy creating heat, they’re much more energy efficient. You see the savings when you compare the wattages; a 15-watt CFL provides about as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
You have many choices in energy-efficient lighting. The most popular light bulbs available are halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Although they can initially cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, over their lifetime they save you money because they use less electricity.
Halogen incandescent light bulbs are simply energy-efficient incandescent bulbs and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Halogen incandescent come in a wide range of shapes and colors and can be used with dimmers.
ENERGY STAR’-qualified CFLs use about 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than traditional Incandescent light bulbs.
You can buy CFLs that offer the same brightness and colors as traditional incandescent bulbs. Some CFLs are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to traditional incandescent bulbs.
CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury and require special handling if they are broken. CFLs should be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Many retailers recycle CFLs for free
LEDs produce light via the movement of electrons through a semiconductor. An LED loses only a very small portion of its energy to heat. Improvements in mass production of semiconductors are reducing the cost of LEDs, and new technology has brought the quality of the light produced to natural light. LED bulbs are rapidly expanding in household use. ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs use only about 20%-25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. They come in a variety of colors, and some are dimmable or offer convenient features such as daylight and motion sensors.
The benefits of LEDs are numerous and include:
– A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is unaffected by turning it on and off. This characteristic gives LEDs several distinct advantages when it comes to operations. For example, LEDs have an advantage when used in conjunction with occupancy sensors or daylight sensors that rely on on-off operation
– LEDs produce equal or greater luminance than existing lighting technology.
– The light from LEDs remains constant over time.
– LEDs now have excellent color quality.
– The light fixtures employing LEDs do not draw power on their own (i.e., a vampire load).
– LEDs have a long life span, approximately 25,000 hours of use.
– LEDs turn on at full brightness almost instantly, with no delay LEDs are also largely unaffected by vibration because they do not have filaments or glass enclosures.
– LEDs are the future of lighting
Many homeowners use outdoor lighting for decoration and security. A variety of products are available from low-voltage pathway lighting to motion-detector floodlights.
LEDs work well indoors and outdoors because of their durability and performance in cold environments. Look for LED products such as pathway lights, step lights, and porch lights for outdoor use. You can also find solar powered outdoor lighting.
– Because outdoor lights are usually left on a long time, using CFLs or LEDs in these fixtures will save a lot of energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be used in enclosed fixtures that protect them from the weather.
– CFLs and LEDs are available as flood lights. These models have been tested to withstand the rain and snow so they can be used in exposed fixtures.
– Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures that are designed for outdoor use and come with features like automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors.
Beginning in 2012, the common light bulbs we use will be required to be about 25% more energy efficient to meet the new efficiency standards of the bipartisan Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007).
As of January 1, 2012, traditional 100 W incandescent light bulbs will not meet the standards and will no longer be available. Similar standards will take effect for traditional 75 W incandescent bulbs as of January I, 2013, and traditional 40 W and 60 W incandescent bulbs as of January 1, 2014. However, you have many lighting options that are EISA-compliant and will save you money.
LEDs belong to a class of lighting called solid-state lighting. Beyond today’s LEDs, the next generation of lighting will include organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). These LEDs produce light when current is applied to a sheet of carbon-based compounds. The effect is to cause the carbon material to glow. These lights are not yet available commercially, but the technology is changing as rapidly as your computer. OLEDs can be almost as flat as a piece of paper. This technology will allow you to have low-cost lighting everywhere that you may need it.
The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that LEDs will become the dominant lighting technology over the next 20 years. This would translate into $265 billion in energy savings, or a reduction in the need for 40 power plants. This technology also could reduce total lighting electrical demand by approximately 30 percent by 2027.
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