You probably know you can save over a hundred dollars a year by changing the light bulbs in your home to more energy efficient varieties. But many people are not sure what lighting is the most efficient at illuminating the space while saving them money.
When choosing energy saving lighting, it does not always make sense to buy the most efficient bulb. Bulbs that emit weak light, such as fluorescents, may save money per bulb, but will not save energy if more lighting fixtures must be added. However, many lamps and other lighting fixtures emit too much light for their given task and could use a less power.
Incandescent bulbs are found in most lamps and household lighting fixtures. They produce a soft, warm light that can be altered with frosting or flickering caps. Unfortunately, these are the most inefficient means of creating light. Although they are cheap, they can use four times the amount of energy to create the same amount of light. The reason for this is incandescent emits a lot of heat in addition to the light they provide. Both light and heat require energy to produce, making incandescent very energy inefficient.
Fluorescent tubes are the polar opposite of incandescents. Fluorescents emit very little heat, but they also produce a lower quality of light. The wattage is normally lower than incandescent bulbs: 10 to 25W, while the tubes can range from 10 inches to 72 inches. The fluorescent tubes may also be curved to fit in circular light fixtures in the place of an incandescent. For many applications fluorescents are preferred because fluorescents emit little heat, allowing them to be placed in areas where incandescents could create a fire hazard.
Smaller fluorescents have also been used in place of an incandescent. Small fluorescents fit into the incandescent socket, but are actually fluorescent lights. Most of the time these are the bulbs that are the suggested replacement for incandescent and will save you the most money. Also, the light quality of these fluorescents has been enhanced, creating the same amount of light for less energy.
Halogen lights or tungsten bulbs are named for the gas that creates a whiter, higher quality of light. Tungsten lights are often used for dramatic effects and specialized task lighting. Tungsten lights are not energy efficient, rather they emit large amounts of heat. A homeowner must be very careful to choose the correct bulb for the fixture and to not exceed the rating. A common type of tungsten bulbs are Christmas lights. Most spotlights are tungsten bulbs as well, although greater in scale.
There are other types of bulbs that you may find in your home. These specialty lights include neon lights and fiber optics. In general, these lights are not actually used for task lighting but for decoration. The lighting can seldom be replaced to be more energy efficient. If you are concerned about the efficiency of these devices, practice economy while using them. Turn them off when you are not in the room or in the position to enjoy them.
Knowing the energy use of specific bulbs in your house can help you save energy and money on your next electric bill. If you are thinking about replacing some of the incandescent bulbs in your house with fluorescents, replace them in high use areas first. This might include the porch light or the bulb in the bathroom fixture. If there is a lamp that is often used, consider buying the more expensive fluorescent bulb for it. Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll be helping the environment as well.