Have you considered trying to save money on your energy bill but don’t know where to begin? Switching to the new technology of energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to reduce what you pay on your energy bill—at home or in the office.
What Has Changed?
Traditional incandescent bulbs were inefficient compared to today’s options. These bulbs use a high amount of energy to produce their light. Many of these older lights are no longer manufactured, and are very hard to find. However, many people still have some in their storage closets, or installed in their lesser-used light fixtures.
90% of the energy consumed by these older bulbs is given off as heat. This heat energy represents a huge amount of wasted electricity when the goal is to light a room, not heat it.
Beginning in 2012, new efficiency standards were phased in. The standards don’t ban any specific bulb, but rather require bulbs use less energy. These efficiency requirements ensure that lightbulbs use less electricity (measured in watts) for the amount of light they produce (called lumens), which is another way of saying the “level of brightness” (1, 2).
What Are The New Lighting Choices?
There are many options when it comes to newer, energy-efficient lighting. The three most popular bulb options are:
- Halogen Incandescents
These bulbs have a capsule containing gas that surrounds the bulb filament, increasing its efficiency. These are available in many shapes and colors. They are compatible with dimmer switches. They are not the most efficient choice; however they do meet the current federal minimum energy efficiency standard (1).
2. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
CFLs are smaller, curled versions of the long tube fluorescent lights that are common in garages, businesses and drop ceilings. These bulbs pay for themselves in less than 9 months, which means after that time period you are saving money each month beyond your investment. If the CFL is Energy Star rated, it will use only a quarter of the energy than a traditional incandescent bulb that would put out the same amount of light. Additionally, it would last ten times LONGER than the comparable incandescent version.
A CFL is more energy-efficient than a halogen incandescent: It uses approximately one third of the energy. Over the last few years, CFLs have adapted to include a wider range of colors and shapes. They may or may not work with dimmers, but the package will alert you to whether this feature is present.
CFLs, like all fluorescent bulbs, contain a small amount of mercury inside. They should always be recycled rather than thrown away. Most retailers now accept CFL recycling for free (1,3).
3. Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
LEDs are actually composed of semiconductors that convert electricity into light. These were originally mainly used for traffic lights or vehicle indicator lights. This category of light has gained rapid popularity and is one of today’s most energy-efficient technologies. New options are constantly being developed, adding to its appeal.
Energy Star rated LEDs use only 20-25% of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs. They last up to 25 times longer than those same bulbs, giving them the longest lifespan of any product available. LEDs use only 25%-30% of the energy as halogen incandescent bulbs.
LEDs currently come in many colors, and a wide variety of shapes and purposes, including for smaller fixtures, recessed fixtures, or track lighting. Some offer dimmable features or motion sensor options. They work well both indoor and outdoor.
How Much Can Be Saved?
The average house spends approximately 5%-10% of its energy usage on lighting. Reducing the cost of this portion of your energy bill can mean an instant savings for you. Energy.gov reports that by simply replacing your home’s FIVE most frequently used light bulbs with Energy Star models, you could save $75 per year.
The exact amount of savings will depend on your individual usage and the energy cost per kilowatt in your area. Just imagine how much you could save if you made the transition to Energy Star for all or even most of the bulbs in your household.
Additional savings can be had by utilizing controls, timers, photocells, motion sensors, and dimmers. These technologies save electricity by reducing waste during times of inactivity, due to forgetfulness, or when less lumen strength is necessary (1,2).
How Are These Savings Possible?
As we mentioned, the new CLF, LED and energy-saving halogen incandescent bulbs that are most commonly sold today use between 25% and 80% LESS energy than the traditional incandescent bulbs. Less wattage usage means less cost for you.
Adding to their appeal is the drastically longer lifespan as compare to their older counterparts. This means that you’ll have to change your lightbulbs less often, which will extend your savings into future months and years. Don’t be discouraged by their slightly higher initial cost; this price difference is made back many times over due to their extended lifetime and energy savings over that time (2).
We Want To Help You Start Saving
If you want to start slow, and phase in more efficient lighting, begin by replacing your most commonly used bulbs. We recommend replacing them with Energy-Star rated bulbs for the best and fastest savings results.