Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Energy Efficient Incandescent Light Bulbs

My friend David sent me an interesting article from the New York Times called, "Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge." One of the frugal things that I have done over the past year is switch over as many light bulbs as I can to cfls. This, along with being diligent about turning out the lights when I leave a room, has cut my electric bills in half.

However, there are some bulbs I have not been able to replace. For one thing, I haven't yet found a dimmable cfl that actually works, and while I have gotten used to the too-bright odd colored cold light of the cfl in most rooms, I still haven't been able to replace the incandescent bulbs in my favorite reading lamps. This New Your Times article says there is still hope:

For lighting researchers involved in trying to save the incandescent bulb, the goal is to come up with one that matches the energy savings of fluorescent bulbs while keeping the qualities that many consumers seem to like in incandescents, like the color of the light and the ease of using them with dimmers.
That sounds like a worthy goal to me! In fact, they already have some incandescent bulbs on the market that are more energy efficient available at Amazon and Home Depot...

I haven't tried them yet, but I am very interested in the possibilities. Truth is, while I love the cost savings from the cfls, I haven't been fond of much else about them. Light bulbs that could give me the same cost savings but have a warmer light, no mercury, and turn on instantly would definitely be appealing. I would love to see a new line of high efficiency, long life bulbs that came in a variety of sizes, including floods and candelabra style, and that also had dimming capability.

In the meantime, I will stick to my cfls. If all the marketing information is correct, I shouldn't have to replace them anytime soon!

If you are thinking about switching to cfls, here are a few tips:

1. Start with bulbs that are on a lot, but aren't used for heavy reading. These are the "low hanging fruit." Ideal bulbs to replace are porch lights, garage lights, basement and workshop lights.

2. Try a few different brands. I have found that different brands have different colors. (Some of mine are peachy and one of mine is positively purple.) Find what works well for you.

3. Consider how you use the room and the lighting. For example, in my kitchen I put a cfl in over the sink. That is the light I use the most for washing dishes and prepping food. However, I have dimmable flood lights in the ceiling. I won't replace these with cfls, in part because I haven't found a good dimmable cfl flood, but also in part because this is a better light for entertaining.

4. The best energy control is simply not wasting it. Remember to flick the light off when you leave the room, unplug appliances and chargers that are sucking up energy, and use natural light whenever possible. You'll have those energy bills down in no time!

EDIT: Check out this post by Frugal Dreamer who was also able to make some differences in her bill through turning out those unneeded lights. Way to go!

Photo by: jnpoulos


Halogenica said...

As I just posted on your other page, there is just no way you could have cut your energy bill in half by switching lamps since lighting is usually less than 10% in the first place.

I've tried the Philips Master Classic halogen energy saver with infra-red coating and integrated transformer that saves 50% (of what incandescent bulbs use) and I'm very happy with it, though the price was steep.

I would not use ugly CFLs in my home, especially not in the garage or basement (if I had any) as such spaces are usually unpleasant enough without unfriendly lighting adding to it. It is also not common to leave lights on for long there, is it?

Dawn said...

Halogenica - As mentioned on my other post, that is what I saw happen - as I added cfls I saw my bills drop and drop. I did not significantly change any other usage. I actually am in the basement quite a bit with the lights on - that is where my workshop is, my books selling inventory and other projects. At first I didn't like the light either, but I don't mind it at all downstairs and I am rather used to it upstairs. However, I think people should find the solutions that works for them - I am not an advocate of "Do everything as I do!" I just post what I have done and what works for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link love!! :)

Dawn said...

Frugal Dreamer - you are most welcome!

Tracy said...

Hi there,

Unfortunately, CFLs may not be all they've been advertised to be, and may not be a good solution on the quest for energy efficiency. Check out this cbc article that has links to other articles and websites: