Sunday, May 17, 2015
The Information That Could Cause You to Have a Light Bulb Moment About Light Bulbs
The bad news is that the average American household currently uses 903 kilowatt hours of electricity each month, costing $107 each time a bill comes due. The good news, however, is that Americans are getting smarter both about how they use energy and how they get it. Electricity companies have now installed smart meters at 50 million homes across the U.S., allowing 43% of those households to track their weekly electricity use; people are figuring out that simple steps such as installing programmable thermostats can save them 10% on their climate-related energy costs; and residents in deregulated energy markets are seeing that switching to alternative electricity suppliers can save them quite a bit in the long run.
In fact, many energy solutions are incredibly simple from a homeowner’s point of view. If you’re looking for an easy way to cut down on your bills and do your part for energy conservation today, you need look no further than your light bulbs. There are three basic energy-efficient types to consider:
Halogen Incandescent Bulbs
These are a variation on the normal incandescents you’re probably used to, and they come in a wide range of colors to give whatever effect you’re going for. A halogen incandescent has an interior capsule that holds gas around the filament to make it more efficient, and indeed these used to be one of the more efficient options available. But now, while halogen bulbs still meet federal energy efficiency standards, you probably have better options to meet your needs. If you do choose halogen bulbs, keep in mind that you should never change them with bare hands; a small amount of oil on the bulb can cause it to burn too hot and explode.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
You’ve probably seen some of these twisted bulbs, even if you didn’t recognize the technology behind them. They’re versions of the long, straight tube lighting often used in industrial settings, but now come in more colors to mimic the soft light of incandescent bulbs. Here’s why you should care about them: They use only a quarter of the energy traditional bulbs do, and last 10 times as long. That means they normally pay for themselves in around nine months. When they finally do burn out, remember that they contain trace amounts of mercury, and need to be recycled rather than just being tossed in the trash.
Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs
These up-and-coming energy solutions use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs -- the same technology behind high-end televisions and other electronics. They work using semiconductors that convert electrical energy into light, but what you really need to know is that they use only between 20% and 25% of the energy traditional bulbs do and last 25 times as long. They’re currently a bit expensive, so they’ll take longer to pay for themselves, but prices should come down as the market for them grows.
What other simple energy solutions can lead to major energy savings? Share your ideas in the comments.