Not too long ago, most American households used incandescent light bulbs almost exclusively. Better choices have emerged for light quality and energy efficiency.
The average US household spends about 5% of its energy budget on lighting. Common incandescent bulbs inefficiently release 90% of their energy to heat, leaving a paltry 10% for actual lighting. By switching to Energy Star-rated bulbs, consumers save about $45 annually per bulb.
For your home, the EPA requires that Energy Star products are clearly labeled and that the label clearly communicates the benefits of the product in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and cost savings. The EPA has a web page that can help you choose the right bulb for your needs based on the shape, color and brightness desired. Here, we list a few other considerations.
CFL. Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs draw less power than incandescent bulbs but more than LED bulbs. They rank between LEDs in terms of efficiency and lifetime cost. At one point CFLs provided greater light disbursement than LEDs, but that advantage has eroded with advancements in LED technology.
However, the appearance of CFL bulbs – a cross between an ice cream cone and spaghetti – is offputting to some consumers.
LED. LED lights are the inverse of incandescent bulbs, flipping the heat/light disbursement ratio in favor of light (95% light vs. 5% heat). In addition to being inherently efficient, LED bulbs draw much less power than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to generate the equivalent amount of light.
Besides removing GHGs from the atmosphere, LED bulbs eliminate disposal of toxic chemicals like mercury that occur in fluorescent bulbs. LED lights don’t contain toxic chemicals and provide higher quality and more focused light. They’re the most compact and energy efficient option for your home.
The one downside is that LED lights are initially more expensive, but they’re still cheaper than CFLs over time.
Halogen. Halogen bulbs are a superior incandescent option. They’re smaller and lighter and last much longer than traditional incandescents. Their low manufacturing costs are passed down to consumers, who won’t have to spend as much as for LEDs.
On the other hand, they become terribly hot during use and emit harmful UV rays, which makes them less attractive options for the home.
Beyond the bulb
In addition to energy efficient bulbs, home energy management systems include dimmers, sensors and controllers. These can time on-off cycles for lighting, turn on lights remotely and integrate different settings for lighting from an app or a desktop computer.
Fixtures that are compatible with energy efficient bulbs are equally important. The government’s Energy Star site identifies certified fixtures that work with efficient light bulbs, representing virtually every type of light fixture for indoor and outdoor use.
Having a fixture that is incompatible with your selected bulb type or wattage can reduce the life of the fixture or prevent the bulb from working at all, so remember to check for compatibility.
So, there you have it: several ways to boost the energy efficiency of the lighting in your home. You have choices when it comes to home loans, too. At First Centennial Mortgage, we provide a variety of home loans tailored to your specific home buying and renovating needs, and we hope your home is efficient and environmentally sound.