Let there be light!
December brings us the Winter Solstice — the least amount of sun, the shortest day. This is an article I wrote way back in 2003 (still very relevant today) about CFLs. Next month, I will go into more details comparing CFLs and LEDs (even more efficient).
Changing the world starts with simple actions. When you replace a light bulb or a fixture in your home with one that is energy efficient, you contribute to a cleaner environment while saving yourself energy, money and time buying and changing lights in your home.
On these dark winter days, let there be light that is good for the soul, eyes and pocketbook. According to the Department of energy (DOE), 20 percent of a residential electric bill can be directly tied to lighting. If you replaced all of your bulbs with energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), you can eliminate at least 12 percent of your electric bill.
All our local hardware stores sell CFLs that use a quarter to a third of the energy of a conventional incandescent bulb and last six to 10 times longer.
If you have bought a CFL before and didn’t like them because of flickering, or them taking a long time to warm up to their full light output, or the weird harsh light they put out, or the unusual shapes they come in, you should definitely try the newer, much improved CFLs.
A little primer on good energy light: I will be focusing on the regular screw-in CFL.
A few tips on CFL bulb buying: First the bad things, most of the readily available CFLs can’t be put on a dimmer or three-way switch. This takes a special type of CFL that is available. Remember that there is also a limited amount of on/offs. CFLs can prematurely die where it is persistently turned on and off. All good CFLs are now instant on but do work more efficiently after a minute of warming up.
Now you need to check how many hours (or life) the bulb you are considering buying has. A good CFL will have a 10,000-hour life. I have noticed a trend towards shorter life expectancy CFL bulbs like 4,000- or 6,000-hour life. These bulbs are still energy efficient but have shorter life expectancy. A regular incandescent bulb has a life expectancy of 900 hours.
While you are at it check the warranty, I have noticed that some to the better bulb companies actually give a six- or seven-year warranty based on which life expectancy bulb you buy.
Always check the lumen output. A lumen is equal to a candle. Generally a good 60 watt bulb (uses 60 watts an hour) puts out 900 lumens. I have seen a CFL that used 23 watts to produce the same 900 lumens while there are super energy efficient CFLs that do the job using only 15 watts.
There is also a new bulb on the market called a sub-compact because it is smaller than the old CFLs. These sub CFLs fit anywhere a regular bulb would fit. CFLs also come in candelabra (min) and many different types of decorative bulb shapes.
Next, check the Kelvin (K) or light temperature. An incandescent burns at 2700K for a warm yellow light. The higher the K the closer you are to natural or full spectrum lighting. A good band for your buck is a 5100K bulb which is like 90% natural light. Not nearly as expensive as a full spectrum bulb but still a very good “blues buster” for those gloomy winter days.
Finally, be on the lookout for the older lower quality bulbs. There are a lot of these still out there for sale.
Let the energy efficient light shine on you this holiday season.