I love how cartoons will show an idea blooming in someone’s head as a light bulb.

I have an idea!

So, what’s the big deal about incandescent lights?!?  Why is everyone so against them?

There is a tiny wire (filament) inside the bulb that is heated up with an electric current until it glows.  Heated up!  And its very inefficient, isn’t it.  Haven’t you burned your fingers removing a bulb before it cooled down?  It’s HOT! 

The heat is all the wasted energy that’s generated by the filament.  Heat from a lightbulb – that’s how the Easy Bake Oven worked when I was a kid…and its still for sale today from Hasbro.  It uses the heat from a light bulb to bake cookies and such. 

for sale on eBay! Vintage Kenner Easy-Bake Oven

With each incandescent light in your house, you are generating heat.  90% of the energy generated by a light bulb is HEAT!  That is amazingly inefficient. Edison created the light bulb 131 years ago.  131 years ago!  Even his heirs say its time for a change.

 Don’t be afraid to use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFB) or LED lights (light emitting diodes) or even incandescent Halogen bulbs.  They make fluorescent bulbs in different light spectrums so you can different degrees of warm or cool light.  I’ve seen 4 different ‘colored’ bulbs.  These colors are generated at a particular Kelvin (K) temperature .  And they don’t flicker so maddeningly like they used to.

You’ll have to get used to looking for ‘lumens’ rather than ‘watts’ when finding the right bulb. 

The Lighting Facts Label required to be put on these products will provide info on energy effectiveness to will help you figure out which bulb to buy.  It’s very straightforward.  I found this example on the Department of Energy (DOE) website.

New Lighting Facts blurb on product packaging

The DOE even has info on understanding lumens vs watts:   http://www.energysavers.gov/pdfs/lumens_placard.pdf  (the page is a draft)

Watts = energy consumed

Lumens = light given, more lumens = more light

The following info came from the DOE also:

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely, so here’s a rule of thumb:

  • To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens

—end of DOE info

Just wouldn't look the same with a curly CFL would it... http://www.thewondrous.com

Energy requirements for remodels and custom homes have been developed which often require them to have fluorescent lighting fixtures (depending on the room and lightswitch used – of course, nothing is cut and dry!).  Unfortunately, the choices for these aren’t as many or as varied as for the old incandescent fixtures.  But, in order to legally comply with the new energy codes, you might have to buy a fluorescent fixture.  It’s getting better, though.  Lower cost choices are becoming more and more available.

 We were so excited to find LED fixtures for the outside of the house we built a couple years ago.  We needed a bunch of outside lights (at least 10) and wanted them to be as energy efficient as possible without costing us $200 a fixture.  We were lucky, because a local big box store started carrying nice ones in the style we needed.

CFLs http://www.ge.com (we bring good things to light!)

One example of a halogen bulb http://www.lightingfx.com

According to the DOE, replacing 15 incandescent bulbs will only save you about $50 a year BUT, you’ll also save on your energy bill since you won’t also be creating all that excess heat.  Lighting accounts for about 10% of home energy use.

 Naturally, I’m not exactly practicing what I’m preaching – I just looked up and realized that my desk lamp has 2 incandescent bulbs in it.  The lamp on the other side of the room has 1 curly fluorescent bulb and 1 incandescent bulb…doofus me!

I've no idea which bulbs are used here, but I love this lamp! http://www.frankbuchwald.de

I’ll be changing those out…but, I wonder, is it overall more or less efficient to just toss an incandescent bulb before it expires?  😉

P.S.  Site for Californians to find the closest place to drop off all sorts of things to be recycled – from batteries to computers, including CFLs  http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/

For those of you outside of CA, try a simple web search using ‘CFL recycle’ or somesuch.