Saving Money is No Joke
Article was added on Monday, October 01, 2012
We've all heard this joke:
How many (insert random type of person here) does it take to change
a lightbulb? While the comedic value of the answer sometimes leaves
a bit to be desired, the underlying principle-simple changes can
needlessly get complicated-stays the same.
The average home contains 40 light fixtures, according to the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Thanks to a series of staggered
federal standards and more lighting choices than ever before, the
average homeowner could save $50 every year by using more energy
This year, the first of several federal lightbulb efficiency
standards kicked in, requiring manufacturers to stop making
100-watt (W) incandescent bulbs in favor of ones using less
electricity to produce the same amount of light (lumens). This
doesn't mean the outmoded bulbs went away-you can still find old
stock at stores around town. But keep in mind that those
traditional incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of your lighting
costs as heat.
If you don't want to stray too far from the bulbs you're used
to, consider halogen incandescent lightbulbs. Color options and
dimming abilities mirror their time-tested forebearers, but they
cut energy consumption by 25 percent and last three times
Another style we've championed for years is the compact
fluorescent lamp (CFL). These swirly bulbs slash energy use by 75
percent compared to traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to
10 times longer.
But for folks who don't like the pigtail CFL shape or who worry
about the very small amount of mercury in these bulbs, another,
brighter option looms on the horizon: light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
These solid-state products have been used in electronics since the
1960s, and manufacturers are ramping up efforts to transform them
into the perfect replacement bulb. LEDs require 75 percent to 80
percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can
last 25 times longer-by far the longest lifespan yet.
DOE estimates it'll take more than six years for a $40,
800-lumen (60-W-equivalent) LED to pay for itself. But investments
in manufacturing and increased demand should help drive down costs.
By 2021, LED prices are expected to drop by a factor of 10, and
that's good news for anyone who enjoys the thought of only changing
a lightbulb once every 20 years or so.
In January 2013, a new set of lightbulb efficiency standards
fall into place, this time halting production of inefficient 75-W
incandescent bulbs. A year later, household lightbulbs using
between 40-W to 100-W must consume at least 28 percent less energy
than classic bulbs, saving Americans an estimated $6 billion to $10
billion in lighting costs annually.
So what's the punchline? Every time you change a lightbulb, buy
a more efficient replacement. No matter which kind you opt for,
you'll save money every time you flip a light switch-and that's
nothing to chuckle about.
Learn more at www.EnergySavers.gov/Lighting.
Floyd L. Keels
President and Chief Executive Officer
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