Efficient Lighting for Green Living

Efficient lighting with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's) requires a very small investment, but pays quickly in energy savings.

Using only about 1/4th the energy of a standard incandescent bulb, changing a single bulb to CFL will save an average of $15 per year. Count the number of light bulbs in your house and you'll see the savings can add up very quickly!

Sometimes referred to as "Squiggle Bulbs" because of their shape, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs cost a bit more than standard bulbs, but last much longer. They will last as much as 10,000 hours per bulb compared with 1,000 hours for a standard bulb. They pay for themselves quickly both in cash and in the time you save changing bulbs. Switching your bulbs is the single most important step you can take for efficient lighting.

CFL's use energy much more efficiently. If every American household replaced one incandescent bulb with a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb, the energy savings would be enough to power the City of Houston (one of my favorite cities!). Because they use energy much more efficiently, they produce less heat, further reducing cooling needs in the summer.

The light produced by Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs is a little different than a standard bulb. The light is less yellow - more like natural daylight. This is sometimes perceived as providing less light, and some find it troublesome. Because they use so much less energy, you can safely use a higher wattage equivalent rating if you feel you need a bit more light. In other words, if you normally use a 60 watt bulb, you can use a 75 watt rated CFL (which actually only uses 18 watts) safely and still save over 1/3 of the energy of your standard bulb.

They also take a couple of seconds to turn on. Don't let this bother you; it really isn't much time at all. If it really is a problem, there are "quick on" bulbs available (for a bit more money).

Types of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Spirals (or squiggles) are the most common and least expensive type of bulb. They are useful where the bulb appearance is not an important factor.

A-Shaped bulbs give the look and feel of a traditional incandescent bulb with all the energy savings of a CFL. They cost a bit more, but if you aren't quite ready for the squiggle look, these may be for you!

Globe shaped bulbs are useful where appearance is critical, places like vanity fixtures and ceiling pendants.

Candle type Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs also provide all the savings but can be used in chandeliers and other places where appearance is important.

Outdoor Reflector CFL's are weatherproof and sealed to withstand rain and snow. As a result, they are much larger than standard CFL's, but with all the energy saving benefits.

Dimmer Bulbs are specially designed for use with dimmer switches. It is important to use only this type of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb with dimmer switches. There are also special 3 way bulbs available for use with those fixtures.

The Bottom Line

There are now Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs available for every household use. There is no reason not to change every single incandescent bulb in your house today to energy efficient bulbs. The money you save can finance a bigger energy saving project...or any one of many other uses you probably have for extra cash. In addition to the money you save, you will be making a major contribution to improving our environment and green living.

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