Lighting choices in Texas to save money

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By Terri Williams February 14th, 2020
For business

Choosing the right lightbulbs can lower your monthly energy bills!

Bright lights aren’t just for football games. You need the right lightbulbs to light the interior and exterior of your home – and to lower your monthly energy bills.

Regardless of how many lights you use in your home, you don’t need to pay your utility company any more than you have to. If you choose the right type of light bulbs, you’ll not only save on your energy bill – your lightbulbs will also have a longer lifespan. So, what’s the difference between these bulbs?

Incandescent light bulbs

These are the traditional lightbulbs with an enclosed wire filament. They’ve been around forever, but are not efficient due to the amount of energy required to produce light. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 90% of the light’s energy is actually heat, so you can see why they’re considered inefficient.

Due to government regulations, halogen incandescents are now required to use less energy than before, and manufacturers have ensured that they meet the minimum energy-efficient requirements. As a result, the DOE projects that you could save 25 percent in energy with newer incandescents.

However, there are two other types of light bulbs that far exceed the minimum requirements. And even better, they will work with your existing light fixture.

LED lights

“LED lights do not produce as much heat as traditional light bulbs, which consume more energy to burn and produce more ambient heat,” says Josh McCormick, VP of Operations of Mr. Electric, which has dozens of locations in Texas. In commercial buildings, where lights could be on for 24 hours, McCormick says the difference is drastic. “From a residential standpoint, one area where you might see faster savings would be in an outdoor setting, such as with a lamp post, spotlight or some other type of lighting with a high wattage and long run time.”

According to the DOE, EnergyStar LED lightbulbs will last 15 to 25 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb. It also uses 75 to 80 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent lightbulb.

Compact fluorescent lights

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which have a spiral or tubular shape, can last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs also use only one quarter of the energy, according to the DOE.

One drawback to these energy-efficient lightbulbs is that they contain a little bit of mercury, so if a CFL breaks, this dangerous substance is released into the environment. If you happen to break one, the EPA recommends the following:

  • Get everyone out of the room as quickly as possible
  • Open a window or external door to air out the room
  • Turn off the HVAC
  • Do not use the vacuum – this could spread the mercury powder further
  • Use cardboard or stiff paper to pick up the broken bulb and duct tape to remove remaining fragments or powder
  • Place all the items in a sealable plastic bag

Understanding lumens

Consumers are accustomed to choosing light bulbs based on how many watts are in the bulb. However, lumens are now the standard when choosing how brightness or dimness of a light bulb.

This is a guide to can help convert watts to lumens:

  • 40W bulb: consider 450 lumens
  • 60W bulb: consider 800 lumens
  • 75W bulb: consider 1100 lumens
  • 100W bulb: consider 1600 lumens

By switching out the five most-used light fixtures with the ENERGY STAR designation, the DOE claims you could save $75 annually.

Smart lighting components set to timers

Smart lighting set to timers is as much about energy savings as it is about convenience and safety,” says McCormick. “Smart lighting today has features available for time of day programming as well ability to connect to smart devices, for checking lights’ status and turning off and on.”

This can be a great help if you want to turn the lights on before you arrive home or when you’re on vacation. This feature is also useful during the holiday season. “Decorations frequently include lights, and the ability to turn them on and off by timer or from smart devices will reduce energy consumption, as well as providing an avenue for fire risk reduction,” McCormick explains.

 

Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Image/Shutterstock

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