Green Light Know How – Your Guide to Energy Saving Light Bulbs

It’s human nature. We are always eager to discover the latest product, especially the ones touted to improve our lives. At the same time, we can be skeptical about new product technologies and it can be difficult to decide what or if to buy. This is certainly the case with energy saving lamps. The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in December 2007, started the clock ticking on the end of the cheap and reliable light bulb. While it’s true that some lamp manufacturers have flirted with the idea of ​​increasing the energy efficiency of Mr Edison’s classic enough to meet regulatory requirements, it now seems likely that for most people, US consumers will have to switch to green lamps of the 21st century. used as of 2012.

The mainstream media is abuzz with news of the coming lightbulb revolution. In the last week of May alone, both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times published high-profile articles on emerging trends in CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) and LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps.

Because they cost more than traditional bulbs, most people buy CFLs for two main reasons: they save money in the long run and they’re better for the environment. In particular, because green light bulbs use much less energy to produce the same amount of light, they reduce harmful gas emissions from coal-fired power plants (which generate 50% of the electricity used in the United States).

So consumers should immediately replace all their incandescent bulbs with low-energy bulbs, right? Well, not so fast. With lighting, quality matters, especially in our homes where we gather, read, cook, eat, celebrate and entertain. There is a perception that green light bulbs require a sacrifice in light quality. Do not believe it. Many eco-friendly light bulbs cast soft, beautiful light. And no one should feel guilty about not turning off every fixture with a regular light bulb. Invest in replacing the most commonly used bulbs first. This approach increases savings and shortens the payback period. And frankly, there are scenarios where the best bulb is the old-fashioned incandescent bulb.

7 keys to choosing the best green light bulbs for your home or office

Choosing from the many CFLs on the market today can be difficult. Gone are the days when all that mattered was the wattage and shape of the bulb.

By keeping these seven simple guidelines in mind, you’ll be on your way to making smart decisions about what to buy to meet your CFL bulb needs in this new green age:

1. Pay more, not less – to save money in the long run, your new green bulbs should last thousands of hours. If you buy the cheapest one you can find, it’s more likely they won’t.

2. Pick your spots – if a fixture is completely enclosed or burns for less than 15 minutes at a time and less than two hours a day, CFLs are a bad investment. There are energy-efficient, mercury-free halogens available that are worth looking into in these situations. Wait for the existing bulb to burn out (or save it for later use – see #6).

3. Nobody likes the blues – the bluish light of many fluorescent tubes does not appeal to most homeowners. When buying CFLs and LEDs, choose labels for “warm white” or “soft white” for a color that looks pleasantly familiar. Energy-saving bulbs labeled “cool white,” “natural light,” or “daylight” are blue-tinted and best for directional applications such as reading, task lighting, and outdoor fixtures, not for living areas, mood, or accent lighting.

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4. dim – most CFL and LED bulbs cannot be used with dimmer switches. Look for green light bulbs boldly labeled “dimmable.” And while the industry has made great strides in recent years, most CFL bulbs don’t dim as well as traditional incandescent bulbs. However, the large energy savings are attractive to most homeowners. Switching to dimmable CFLs or LEDs in a busy family kitchen can save real money, including reduced cooling costs because neither type generates as much heat as incandescent bulbs. Final point: The dimmer switch should be compatible with the green light bulbs you buy.

5. Let’s do the twist – spiral or “twister” CFLs are the least expensive type. If these green bulbs are hidden behind a hood (although not completely enclosed), buying a spiral bulb will reduce the payback time compared to glass-covered CFLs.

6. Stay out of the closet – most cabinets need short bursts of instant light. This usually applies to powder rooms, basements, attics, and garages. Of the energy-saving lamps, energy-saving lamps in particular are not suitable for this. Traditional bulbs (or again, energy-efficient halogen bulbs) are best in these scenarios until something better comes along.

7. Innovative, intriguing, expensive – mercury-free LED bulbs are the future of lighting, case closed. These green light bulbs use less electricity than even compact fluorescent bulbs and they last 30,000 hours or more. However, current prices per bulb are as high as $100, meaning the payback period for most home uses is too long to justify the price. If you are curious about this new technology and live in an area with high electricity costs, consider LED replacement bulbs for one or two fixtures that are used a lot (6+ hours per day). Re-read Key #1 before investing in these types of CFL bulbs.

Ignore the naysayers – green light bulbs are here to stay

One last point: mercury is what makes CFLs (and fluorescent tubes for that matter) work. Some serious people, including columnist George Will, say we should avoid CFLs for this reason. We disagree. Coal-based electricity generation is the largest contributor to the environment when it comes to mercury. Due to lower electricity consumption, a single CFL will keep much more mercury out of the environment than it contains during its lifetime. Still, it’s a bad idea to release mercury into the environment, so it’s important to recycle CFLs when they stop working. Recycling your used lamps is getting easier and easier.