Compared to old incandescent, Energy saving bulbs consume up to 80% less energy and produce same or better amount of light. Use of these bulbs will ensure more saved money and energy and less carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.
According to research findings, just one bulb replacement with an energy saver saves an average of £5 a year. And this figure rises with more bulb replacements. If more homes adopt this, more energy will be saved and money initially spent on energy used in other activities.
Initial use of inefficient halogen light bulbs and traditional incandescent bulbs is being overtaken slowly by the introduction of more efficient energy saving bulbs which are environmental friendly. Together with the government, energy regulatory companies and retailers are working together towards a common goal of phasing out the use of inefficient bulbs and as a consumer, you need to complete the cycle by embracing the use of this bulbs.
Types of energy saving bulbs
Three most common types include; Halogen Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
I. Halogen incandescent
For efficiency, the incandescent bulbs are fitted with a capsule that holds gas around the filament. They are of different shapes, sizes and colors and can be used with dimmers. With regards to energy regulation, they meet the minimum energy efficiency standards.
II. The Light Emitting Diode (LEDs)
LEDs are semi-conductors that convert heat energy to light energy. Initially they were only used as indicators and traffic lights but their energy efficiency feature has made them better compared to traditional incandescent since they last up to 25 times longer. Consequently, they use only 20%-25% of the energy.
In as much as they are expensive, more money is saved since they last longer and consume very low energy. Also as more varieties enter the markets, and improved technology in manufacturing, prices are expected to go down. They are mostly of 40w, 60w and 75w.
LEDs, manufactured as small bulbs were first used for battery powered items e.g. headlamps and flashlights. Nowadays they are available with standard bases that fit to varied light fixtures.
There most important feature is them being directional and have diffuser lenses that disperse light more as opposed to incandescent bulbs
Owing to the use of cheaper silicon wafers instead of a more expensive sapphire technology in the production of LEDs, reduced costs are expected in the LED markets soon.
Why you should consider the use of LEDs
Long lasting; comparing them to typical incandescent bulbs, they last more than ten times longer.
Durable; this is due to the fact that they do not have a filament and can therefore not break under jarring and bumping conditions.
Cool; using the British Thermal Unit (BTU) where one BTU is equivalent to 1055 joules, LED bulbs only produce approximately 3 BTUs in an hour hence no heat build-up. Incandescent bulbs produce approximately 90 in the same time duration leading to heat build-up in a room and thereby more air conditioning costs.
No mercury; mercury when not properly disposed can cause health complications.
Efficient; in terms of watts, LEDs use as low as 2 watts to a maximum of 17 watts which is only 1/3 to 1/30 respectively of watts used by incandescent. In flashlight bulbs, they extend the battery life to fifteen times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Cost effective; initially, LEDs were considered expensive during purchase but taking into consideration their life span and battery savings, they are cheaper in the long run. Nowadays, the costs have considerably reduced due to more production and market influx.
Lighting for portable generators; LED bulbs are most ideal for homeowners with portable generators important for power backups and during emergencies
Remote area lighting; in remote areas where electricity is a problem, LED bulbs are the most ideal to use with solar panels or generators due to their low power requirements.
Choosing an LED Bulb
Because of market influx and availability of different products in the market, it’s important to have a guideline of what you should consider when purchasing an LED bulb. Basically understand lumens as a measure of brightness and choose a bulb with more light but consumes less energy. The following are other factors to keep in mind.
Desired Brightness; this information is contained in the package. Read and compare wattage. Currently, as a new measure, all bulbs display lumen information which measures brightness. The higher the lumen, the more will be the brightness.
Combination 3 way bulbs; three way bulbs replaced the 30w, 60w and 75w bulbs incandescent bulbs and consume up to 80% less energy. The Omni directional feature makes them usable everywhere the incandescent bulbs are used.
Type of light; do you require warm or cool light? Cool white light is essential for task lighting while warm light is for small area lighting. Choose as per requirement
Pin Base; standard and dimmable bulbs; choose the appropriate standard or socket ‘pin’ base. Consequently consider bulbs that will work with the standard dimmer switch.
Cost and certification; very low cost bulbs are low quality and contain a chip that fails easily therefore dying prematurely. LEDs should also be verified with energy stars.
Examples of LEDs include;
- Diffused bulbs; are covered by a lens that helps in spreading light over a large area. They are suitable for large rooms and hallways.
- Dimmable globe LED bulbs; dimmable from 100% to 10% and have up to 200 degree beam angle for casting light in broad, wide areas.
- Track Lighting Pin Base; mostly available pin base is MR-16 and are ideal for track lighting. They last long and do not get hot to touch.
Others include flood reflector LED light bulbs, flame Tip, Candelabra Base LEDs and LED tube lights that replaced fluorescent tube bulbs.
III. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
CFLs are similar to long fluorescent tubes but are curly. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, they are more efficient and save more energy. Considering the little amount of electricity they use, it is estimated that they pay for themselves in around nine months and for each subsequent month, it will be money saved. On average, they last more than ten times and use only a quarter of the energy used by the traditional incandescent bulbs.
To take care of different tastes and preferences, CFLs are of different colors and have different features. Similar shape bulbs to the one you are replacing can be obtained and the different level of lighting they exhibit gives you the option of a brighter or dimmer bulb. They are also recyclable.
Why you should consider the use of CFLs
Less expensive; although a bit costly on initial purchase, less energy consumption means more energy and money saved.
Quality light; CFLs emit warmer, inviting light compared to ‘cool white’ light by traditional incandescent bulbs. Consequently, they don’t flicker nor hum.
Pollution; reduced carbon dioxide emissions from power plants mean reduced air pollution, reduced electricity consumption, reduced sulfur oxides and nuclear waste emissions.
Versatility; can be used anywhere; in recessed fixtures, track lighting, table lamps and in porch lights among others. Are also dimmable with 3-way settings.
Choosing a CFL Bulb
When choosing the kind of CFL bulb to purchase, the following are some of the considerations;
- Shape;CFLs are available in many shapes that fit various fixtures, choose the most desirable one.
- Lumen Output; Lumens indicate the amount of light the bulb emits. The lumen output information can be obtained from the bulb package
- Kelvin (k) number. The kelvin number available on the packaging indicates the level of brightness of a bulb. I.e.2700-3000; indicates emission of soft bright light 3500-6000; more bright light and around 5000; cool white/blue light.
Disposing CFL bulbs
CFL bulbs contain mercury which when not handled properly leads to water contamination and food effects thereby causing health complications. When disposing these bulbs, it is advisable to keep them out of the waste stream
If the bulb breaks accidentally, ensure to keep window open for approximately 20 minutes and clean the mess with a wet rag,thereafter, enclose the broken waste material in a plastic bag and call the recycling center.
Commonly asked questions on energy saving bulbs
Why should I use low energy light bulbs?
Traditional bulbs waste too much energy; actually, only 10% is converted into light. Compared to traditional bulbs, energy saving bulbs last 10 times longer and consume up to 80% less of energy. Less energy consumption means more savings in terms of electricity costs.
In terms of environmental conservation, long lifespan of energy efficient bulbs means reduced dispose hence less space in landfill. Also, less energy consumption means less carbon dioxide gas production.
Energy efficient bulbs cost more. Am I really saving money?
Consider the lifespan; more than ten times the traditional bulbs. This means more than ten additional purchases of traditional bulbs.Also, little energy consumed means low power bills. In the long run, more money and energy saved.
Does lower energy mean less light?
No. some bulbs e.g. the Bio bulbs are regarded as daylight bulbs because of the quality of light they produce. A regular bio bulb of 60 watts produces around 1260 lumens (a unit of measuring light as seen by the naked human eye) which is almost two times that of traditional bulbs.
What should I consider before purchase of an energy efficient bulb?
- The power emitted in terms of lumens (600 lumens for a 60 watt incandescent bulb)
- The type of fitting (screw in bulb or bayonet)
- Lifespan in hours, (Traditional bulbs last for 1000 hours)
Apart from savings, is there another major difference from incandescent bulbs?
Yes. Energy saving bulbs is tailored to suit personal tastes and preferences. They come with different shapes and colors to choose from.
What are the different types of energy saving bulbs?
The most common energy efficient bulbs include; CFLs, LEDs and halogen incandescent bulbs. They can be easily obtained from local hardware and stores.