Energy Efficiency - Lighting

Conserve and Save - www.rpu.org

This educational article is brought to you by
Rochester Area Builders, Inc. with the support of Rochester Public Utilities.

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Compact Flourescent Light Bulb

Compact Flourescent Light Bulb

New Lighting Technology

For many years, the humble light bulb has bathed our homes in “natural” light. In moving towards higher energy efficiency, the challenge is to provide comfortable illumination that is consistent with the incandescent lighting we have come to expect as a standard. This challenge is being met in the form of the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) technologies.

More Light for the Watt

Although it is commonly believed that the higher the wattage the more light produced, this is not actually the case. Wattage is solely the measurement of the amount of energy consumed. Truth be told, the traditional light bulb is not very energy-efficient. It requires 100 watts of energy to produce 1600 lumens of light. By contrast, a compact, corkscrew-shaped fluorescent tube has been on the market for some time, now. It is roughly the same size and shape as the standard light bulb and conveniently screws into the standard bulb socket. Those same 1600 lumens can now be produced using a 23 watt fluorescent tube, or only ¼ the energy of the 100W light bulb.

Pros & Cons of the CFL

In terms of life expectancy, a fluorescent tube can be expected to last approximately seven times as long as a standard light bulb. Using energized mercury rather than a heated filament to produce light, the fluorescent tube operates at a much cooler temperature as well. There are, however, some drawbacks that come with using fluorescent tubes. For the most part, dimmer switches cannot be used with them. There are some dimmable ballasts (a circuit that limits the current flow in a fluorescent lamp) available, but they are still very expensive. Also, fluorescents do not perform well in cold weather, so outdoor applications in Minnesota winters are discouraged.

Disposal of CFLs Not a Problem

Since they contain mercury, fluorescent tubes cannot be thrown out with the trash. However, Olmsted County Hazardous Waste Facility accepts discarded tubes free of charge, as do some retailers.

Many Uses for LEDs

LED Rope Light

LED Lightbulb

In addition to the newer, fluorescent lights on the market, LED lights are now available. They produce not just four, but ten times the light for the same wattage and last fifty times as long as the standard light bulb. Technology has advanced to the point where LEDs may be substituted for either incandescent or fluorescent lighting in many standard applications. These mini-lights use reflectors to focus and direct the light, with the end result being lighting that meets homeowner expectations. They operate at low voltages and can be used in a variety of situations. Rope lights can be both functional and decorative. Small, individual, energy-sipping LED lights are used down stairways, along hallways, under cabinets and above toe-kicks. Low voltage lighting provides safety and convenience for outdoor applications, such as along sidewalks and around landscaping. This form of lighting uses a transformer to convert 110 volt alternating current into low voltage 12 volt direct current. At this low level, installation does not require a permit or a minimum in-ground depth for running wires to the light source.

LED Rope Light

LED Rope Lights

Rebates Available

Both fluorescent and LED lights are more expensive than incandescent lights, but as quantities and competition increase, prices are coming down. Various rebates are available through your local utility and forms may be available online. Local area lighting retailers may have them as well. Download the Rochester Public Utilities rebate forms.

Future Lighting Looks Green

Green technology is constantly improving the efficiency of lighting. As things evolve, lighting retailers and utility companies are able to provide valuable information when the time comes to update your home’s lighting.

Copyright 2018 Rochester Area Builders, Inc. No part of these articles may be reproduced or printed without written permission from Rochester Area Builders, 108 Elton Hills Lane NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Phone (507) 282-7698.