07 Dec Efficient Lighting Reduces Home Energy Costs
Across America, lighting homes costs about 25% of your total electric bill. However, every light presents an opportunity to save on your next electric bill. All you need is a simple, straightforward efficient lighting plan.
Fortunately, at GreenHomes America, we believe home energy projects generate success when homeowners understand the problems and possible solutions. As a result, we help you learn about and understand home energy and comfort issues.
The Basics of Efficient Lighting
Technology creates huge improvements in electric energy efficiency. For example, new light emitting diode (LED) bulbs use a fraction of the electricity compared to older incandescent bulbs used. In order to reduce your energy costs, you need to understand lighting terminology and the available options. As a result, you can create an efficient lighting plan (and even make some adjustments depending on your holiday lights).
Incandescent lighting provides the conventional, older, light bulbs, which we typically think about when we think about light bulbs. They remain inefficient, hot to the touch and usually only last a few years. Halogen light bulbs offer a slightly more efficient form of incandescent lighting. As far as lighting efficiency goes however, halogen lighting is NOT very efficient.
Typically, stores and offices rely on fluorescent lights for general lighting. Fluorescent lighting requires a ballast to “start” or turn the bulb on. Generally, installation means inserting the 4 foot tubes into place. However, these bulbs offer more efficiency than incandescent bulbs. Smaller versions of fluorescent lights, called compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s), offer homeowners energy efficient replacements of standard incandescent light bulbs. Higher efficiency means that CFL's provide more light than incandescent light bulbs for every dollar of electricity.
LED lighting or light-emitting diodes rely on newer lighting technology, which produces light very efficiently. Plus, LED lights provide similar features, such as dimming, longer lasting, more affordable and come in a variety of color temperatures. LED lighting is VERY efficient. These bulbs should be used throughout your home to provide the highest efficiency lighting system possible.
Lighting Wattage and Output
A light bulb’s wattage determines the amount of electricity that is used whenever the light bulb is on. The lower the wattage, the less electricity consumed during usage. Additionally, light output is the brightness or the total amount of visible light produced by the light bulb (measured in lumens).
The efficiency of a light bulb is the total amount of visible light produced (in lumens) per watt of electricity used by the light bulb. For example, a 60-watt incandescent light bulb provides 860 lumens of visible light output. To determine the lighting efficacy, divide 860 lumens by 60 watts or 860/60=14 lumens per watt. A LED 11-watt light bulb that produces the same amount of light (860 lumens) produces a lighting efficacy of 860/11 or 78 lumens per watt (the higher the lumens per watt, the more efficient the light bulb).
Lighting Burn Time
The lighting burn time or number of burn hours is the total number of hours per day a light is used. Electric costs derive from the number of burn hours per day. For example, light bulbs left on when no one is in the room add to your monthly electric bill unnecessarily.
Light Color Temperature
There are three primary types of color temperature for light bulbs. They are soft white, bright white (or cool white) and daylight. Soft white has a color temperature of 2700K to 3000K and has a softer, yellowish color. Bright white or cool white has a color temperature of 3500K to 4100K and has bluish-white color. Daylight has a color temperature of 5000K – 6500K and has a very white color. The higher the Degrees Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature.
How to Create Efficient Lighting
GreenHomes recommends efficient lighting throughout your home. After all, the project is simple and straightforward. Plus, homeowners start immediately saving money on electric bills. For example, the more light bulbs upgraded to high-efficiency, the more you save every month.
Develop a plan that includes these recommendations:
1. Switch off lights when not in use. Turning off unneeded lighting saves on electricity immediately without the need to buy or install anything.
2. Review the most used lights each day in your home. Replace these bulbs first with LED light bulbs that provide the proper lumens (brightness) and the desired color temperature.
3. When replacing older, inefficient lighting in your home, the industry sells LED bulbs as 40-watt or 60-watt replacements. This does not mean the LED lights use 40 or 60 watts. It means the LED light bulbs produce the same amount of light (or lumens) as an old 40-watt or 60-watt incandescent light bulb. For example, an LED light bulb sold today that is a 60-watt replacement uses 9 to 11 watts of electricity.
4. Replace CFL or compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED lighting after replacing the incandescent lights.
5. When upgrading to LED light bulbs, don’t just select the cheapest bulb. Think about the needed brightness. Make sure the LED replacement provide enough bright light (the same or more lumens than produced by the old light bulb). Ensure the LED replacement offers the preferred color temperature for the task and location of the light bulb.
6. Make sure you double-check if the lights have dimmer controls. Some dimmer controls work better with high-efficiency lighting than others.
7. Consider using newer, automatic controls for turning lights off when not needed (such as in basements, spare bedrooms, outside, etc.). Automatic lighting controls help help you save electricity each month.
Impact of Efficient Lighting
To emphasize the energy saving potential of upgrading light bulbs, let’s look at a simple example. A traditional 60-watt incandescent or halogen light bulb used for 3 hours a day would cost about $7.23 a year at an electric cost of 11 cents per kWh. Replacing that light bulb with a 9-watt LED light bulb would cost about $1.08 per year to use. The savings would be $6.15 per year per light bulb. Since LED light bulbs last for 20 years, the savings over the next 20 years on your electric bill would be $120 FOR EACH LIGHTBULB in your home.
The time to upgrade your light bulbs is now!
Holiday Lighting Tips
Properly conserving costs means understanding what drives them. During the holidays, the amount of energy used remains driven by the lighting wattage. Therefore, taking a few simple actions cuts back on total watts and helps lower the monthly bill.
As you consider and develop steps for creating efficient lighting, there is no reason for cutting back on holiday spirit. For those concerned about costs, review a Holiday Lighting Calculator for a monthly estimate.
Reducing the wattage of lights remains the best way for lowinger your electricity costs. However, there are a few ways to keep your home decorated in holiday spirit and still cut back. Here are a few ideas.
Buy LED Holiday Lights
Incandescent holiday lights are terribly inefficient. Plus, despite careful storage, they often emerge halfway lit with many being tossed in landfills the following year. Instead, enhance your efficient lighting plan and use ENERGY STAR® qualified LED lights. In addition to using 70% less energy than traditional bulbs, they're brighter, eco-friendly, and safer because they are cooler than incandescent lights. In addition, they are easier to install—up to 24 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. They last ten times longer, have no filaments or glass to break, and costs are similar to the age-old standard. If you prefer white lights with the look of incandescent lights, look for "warm" white on the label.
In addition, many local stores include rebates and coupons on ENERGY STAR® qualified Decorative Light Strings. Plus, these lights often have a three-year warranty, come in a variety of colors and have indoor and outdoor models.
Put Holiday Lights on a Timer
Most homeowners know that timers help during the holiday season because a timer ensures lights are turned off before the sun rises. Also, timers turn on the lights when homeowners are stuck at work or attending that holiday party. Homeowners can save a bundle keeping light displays on only 8 hours or less during the evening (when you can see them).
It may not be the right fit for every home and homeowner, but a battery powered decoration does not impact the energy bill. A simple window candle provides a classy feel to the right home and only requires a few AA batteries.
Another idea that reduces energy costs is adding some tinsel to the tree. Instead of adding more lights to fill out the tree, add tinsel or other mirrored ornaments, which reflect light and add depth to the tree.
Enjoy Your Lights
A simple step to reduce energy is enjoy the Christmas tree lights on their own. When everyone is gathered around the tree for some fine holiday discussion, turn off the room lights and let your Christmas tree light the room.
Use Extension Cords
Extension cords ensure that lights are not wasted. Frequently, there are portions outside the home that are not visible from the road, but often have lights covering trees and shrubs. Use extension cords, which will reduce energy consumption and ensure only the lights are visible.
GreenHomes America believes homeowners should enjoy their homes. Reducing energy costs through efficient lighting is one way to get the most out of your home. For any questions on how to improve your home energy or comfort, ask GreenHomes America!
We hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun holiday season with friends and family.
Happy Holidays from GreenHomes America!
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