Making your home more energy efficient and green, will not only allow you to make a positive contribution towards a better and healthier environment, but it will also provide you with tangible financial savings and improved comfort in your home. There are a great deal of Eco-friendly home improvements that you can do inside your house, but a one simple place to start with is home lighting, which represents about 20 percent of your home’s electricity bill. You can make your lighting more energy efficient with little time, and minimal costs, by replacing your conventional light bulbs with energy efficient ones, such as LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).
Both of these products have earned their Energy Star Ratings, and you can buy either one, depending on your personal household needs and preferences. Currently CFLs cost less than LEDs and both can be purchased at local hardware stores. Imagine that if every American made this simple switch, we would collectively save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year!
What is the Energy Star Rating?
When a product earns an Energy Star Rating, it means that the product meets strict guidelines set forth by the US Environmental Protection Agency. To qualify, the product must deliver exceptional features, performance and comfort for consumers, while also utilizing less energy. The ultimate goal of products with this rating is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy.
What are CFL Lights?
CFL lights, also known as fluorescent lights, are small, energy efficient, produce better light, and are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. They use advanced technology to produce light, which is different from conventional incandescent lighting. In a CFL, electric current is driven through a tube that contains argon an mercury vapor. Combined, they generate invisible ultraviolet light that excites a fluorescent coating (phosphor) on the inside of the tube, which then emits visible light. Because of this process, CFLs take a little longer to become fully lit (30 seconds-3 minutes).
What are the benefits of CFLs?
1. Last 10 times longer than conventional lights
2. Produce 75% less heat, helping you save on cooling costs.
3. Use 75% less energy than conventional lights to produce the same amount of light
4. Save about $30 dollars on electricity costs over their lifetime.
Different Types of CFL Lights
Spiral bulbs are the most popular type of CFL lights and can replace almost any conventional light bulb in your house. They can be used in wall scones, pendant fixtures, ceiling fans, as well as floor and table lamps. They provide just as much as light a conventional bulbs, but use less energy. Spirals are available in a variety of colors such as soft white, daylight, natural light, allowing you to create the mood that you prefer. There are spirals for dimmers and three-way switches.
In 2007, Americans saved $1.5 billion by switching to CFLs, and helped the environment by removing as much greenhouse gas pollution as planting 2.85 million acres of trees would.
Covered A Shape Bulbs
These CFL bulbs are a favorite among many consumers since they combine the efficiency of the spiral bulbs with the look and feel of incandescent lights. If you don’t like the look of spirals, A shaped bulbs are the way to go. They can be used in ceiling fans, pendant fixtures, and in floor and table lamps.
Globe bulbs are essentially spiral bulbs with a decorative cover. Their ideal place of use is in places where you can see them such as in bathroom vanity bars and ceiling pendants.
Tubed bulbs are straight versions of the spirals. They work well in lamps that have slender covers, such as wall scones, but can also be used in floor and table lamps.
If you love decorative light fixtures where you can see a light bulb, candle CFL bulbs are a great option. Moreover, their sleek shapes allow you to use them in more narrow fixtures where a globe bulb will not fit.
Indoor CFLs are specifically designed to direct light out of the fixture, as well as to withstand the heat that builds up inside of them. Consequently, they are best used in recessed ceiling lights, and in ceiling fans.
3-way and dimmable CFLs
If you have fixtures and lamps with dimmer switches, you need to make sure that you read the labels on the package and purchase dimmable CFL lights. These bulbs maintain light color more consistently than incandescent bulbs, and dim 10-40% of their original brightness. Similarly if you have fixtures, or lamps with three-way switches, you need to buy special three-way CFL bulbs. Both types of bulbs come in a Soft White color. All of the CFL light bulb types are available in a 3-way and dimmer versions.
Environmental Downside of CFLs
The only downside to CFLs, is the fact that they contain mercury, and thus require proper recycling procedures. As homeowner, you can simply return your old CFls to the store where you bought them, and they will take care of the recycling process for you.
What are LED Lights?
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are semiconductors that emit light when an electric current passes through them. Environmentally friendly LED lights are even more energy efficient than either traditional light bulbs, or CFLs. LEDs fit directly into an electrical circuit, and because they do not have a filament, and can last a long time without burning out. LEDs are best used in direct light situations such as recessed down lights, flashlights, and integrated light fixtures. They can come in a variety of colors including white light.
What are the benefits of LED lights?
1. LEDs are manufactured with an epoxy resin, which means that that they are highly durable and will not break, unlike a conventional bulbs, or a CFLs.
2. LEDs emit light in a specific direction, so they do not waste extra energy in the form of heat and light. By comparison, a CFL releases about 80% of its energy as heat.
3. LEDs do not get very hot, and require far less electric power than traditional light bulbs.
4. Unlike CFLs, LEDs do not contain toxic mercury.
5. LED light bulbs can last about 10 times longer than a CFLs.
About the Author
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Follow Alex on Blogger – Aleksandr Biyevetskiy is an avid proponent of green building technology for residential and commercial construction, and a big fan of sensible sustainability for business, government, and society. Some of the topics that Alex likes to write about include (among other things) residential and commercial metal roofing for homes and businesses, and environmentally friendly PVC roofing systems for flat and low slope roofs. Alex also maintains a personal blog, in which he covers a variety of concurrent topics at www.Tampile.com/blog/.