Lighting has always been acknowledged to be the largest consumer of energy in commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. Even though these buildings are always built to allow penetration of natural light, they cannot function effectively without an effective lighting system. Putting in place an effective lighting maintenance system will help your lighting system reach its maximum potentials. Your lighting system needs to be regularly checked to ensure it is functioning at it highest potentials. Let’s compare lighting system maintenance to maintaining your car, the fact that you are able to get your car to move from point A to B does not translate to you having a healthy car.
That is how a lightening system works, without a lighting maintenance system in place, you will be unsure of the working condition of your lighting systems. With the increasing cost of energy, there is a need to put in place an lighting system maintenance program to works around energy saving and lighting controls. With a well-implemented lighting maintenance program, your building stands at a chance of cutting by at least 30% of its energy consumption. In putting in place a lighting maintenance system, there is a need to prioritize considering the availability of resources and manpower.
By understanding your priorities, you’ll be able to get the best out of your lighting maintenance program. At inception, you need to set goals by deciding what is to be achieved through the program. It could be to improve the lighting, maximize energy savings, achieve social responsibility or minimize energy costs. One maintenance strategy adopted by buildings in maintenance programs is group relamping with energy efficient lighting systems such as LED Lights. With group relamping, you are assured of a uniform appearance of the entire installation. As an electrical engineer, you should know that by involving group relamping in your lighting maintenance, there will be an increase in the life cycle of your control gear.
One mistake that often affects the energy efficiency levels of buildings is seeing lighting maintenance as a reactive task rather than a proactive action. With a plan in place, you are able to surmount challenges that are going to spring up during maintenance. Another essential maintenance task is adjusting and focusing on the lighting system. Perception of light cannot be ascertained without it beam on a surface. Tweak your LED Lights on wall surfaces, equipment, merchandise or whatever is intended to be featured.
One aspect of lighting maintenance often overlooked is the cleaning of the lighting system. Light bulbs are prone to the accumulation of dirt. This often has a reducing effect on the lighting fixtures. For indoor or office lighting, it is often the surface dirt that affects the output of the lighting. By dusting the lamps and the surfaces, there will be an increase in the output. This also involves the exterior lamps as it is also prone to foreign materials and dirt. In summary, lighting maintenance program is one proven strategy to get the best of your lighting system.
Well, looks like the 2007 law phasing out 100-year old incandescent light bulb technology in favor of newer light bulbs that waste less energy while providing more efficient lighting options is working.
Light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs have improved their efficiency roughly 50% and expanded consumer options as federal regulations have tightened, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
At the same time, LED prices have continued dropping “dramatically” according to EIA, to the point where they make long-term economic sense for consumers even without government energy efficiency incentives.
Between 2012-2014 LED efficiency jumped from just over 60 lumens per watt to nearly 100 lumens per watt, and they may hit 150 lumens per watt by 2020. Compare LEDs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) with 55-70 lumens per watt, and traditional incandescent bulbs with 13-18 lumens per watt, and the LED advantage is bright as day.
LED manufacturers are not only increasing efficiency, they’re expanding options. EIA reports several manufacturers released Energy Star-qualified LED bulbs surpassing 100 lumens per watt in September 2014.
That competition is pushing prices down accordingly – the first LED priced below $10 hit the market in 2013, and North Carolina-based Cree just released a 60-watt equivalent LED that costs $7.97 but generates $135 in lifetime savings. The lower-cost trend will likely continue as millions in R&D funding for LEDs starts driving innovations.
As a result of falling prices and favorable incentives, LEDs keep gaining market share. LED shipments skyrocketed from around 9 million light bulbs in 2011 to over 45 million bulbs in 2013. That’s good for around 2.3% of the general lighting market and combined with CFL shipments of 300 million annually since 2011, mean efficient lighting now makes up nearly a quarter of the U.S. lighting market.
Can LED Lighting Overcome The Color Rendering Index?
But even with all these cost and efficiency improvements, there’s still one aspect of lighting where LEDs don’t compete – the “warmth” of light given off by the bulb, as measured by the color rendering index (CRI).
Traditional incandescent bulbs have a CRI around 100, and while many LEDs have CRIs ranging from 20-30 (meaning a “cool” light), EIA notes several LED manufacturers have produced CRI values above 80. But again, technological advances are cutting that gap, as with Cree’s 2013 release of an LED with a CRI of 93. EIA also notes consumer studies report low correlation between consumer ranks and CRI values, meaning a low CRI doesn’t mean poor light quality.
And besides, with so many potential benefits to using LEDs combined with the positive low-cost and high-efficiency momentum, it’s going to take a lot more than just “cold” light to dim the outlook for efficient lighting.
More people are realizing the benefits of using energy-efficient products. The need to save energy is becoming more important for homeowners and business owners. Buying light emitting diodes (LEDs) is the ideal solution to green lighting. Consumers must understand the environmental and economic benefits of using these LED light technologies.
LED lights are designed to use at least 90% less energy than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. As a result, people are able to save hundreds to thousands of dollars a month on energy bills. They are less likely to replace and maintain the light bulbs, so they save even more money in the long run. LED lights come with a number of advantages:
LEDs lights are made in singles or rows andvary from 3 mm to 8 mm in length. The small size makes it easy for people to hang up these lights in very small spaces. Also, LEDs emit light in one direction, which is more efficient than light emitted in many different directions.
LED lighting is guaranteed to include a long lifespan. These lights last as many as 50,000 hours unlike incandescent lights that last only 2,000 hours on average and fluorescent lights that last10,000 hours. Thislifespan is determined by the number of hours that pass until 70% of the brightness starts to fade.
Traditional lights lose significant amounts of heat andenergy due to high intensity. Incandescent lightsemit heat through 90% of its energy, but LED lights stay cool. The LED bulbs do not contain glass that is prone to breakage, so it is common to find these lights in buildings where people play sports and other intense activities.
Consumers find the best lights by looking at energy efficient ratings. There areEnergy Star-rated LED productsthat provide morelight than incandescent productswith less of the energy wastage. These LED lightsturn on instantly and use zero power when turned off.
Types of LED Lights Available
There are different types of LED lights available for homes, offices and different commercial buildings.High-power LEDs (HPLED) are high intensity lights commonly found in homes and offices. The intensity of the light and heatis higher than traditional LEDs. There are real dangers that HPLED products could overheat, so placing the lights near heat absorbents is recommended. The costs are high, but the lights have long lives and low energy costs in the long term.
Miniature LEDs are placed in various electronics like smartphones and calculators. When people see small warning indicator lights, they are likely to see miniature LEDs that flash or do not flash. Super flex LEDs are made for large spaces like billboards and very large television screens. For home and businesses, there are strip lights that are easy to install on walls, ceilings or floors. Flexible strips are made as ropes and ribbons that are easy to install anywhere and wrap around objects. There are also dimmable, waterproof and color changing lights available for decorative purposes.
There are professionals like police officers and firefighters who need LED emergency lights. These lights are found on the top, front or rear parts of emergency vehicles. The LED type is more favorable because it is brighter and longer lasting than the fluorescent type. The light source is pure, intense and dims or changes color with little effort. Emergency responders need superior LED lights to alert people and indicate warnings quickly.
All in all, choosing LED lights is the best option for anyone interested in green living. Light-emitting diodes are used to create light that is bright, durable and energy efficient.Compared to incandescent and fluorescent lights, the LED options come with far more advantages. Due to the small size, the lights are easy to place in small spaces. Some lights are made in flexible strips that can be wrapped for better placement. There are many different LED products that are specially made for home and business settings, so people are encouraged to do research before making their selections.
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that creates light using solid-state electronics. A diode is composed of a layer of electron rich material separated by a layer of electron deficient material which forms a junction. Power applied to this junction excites the electrons in the electron rich material leading to photon emission and the creation of light. Depending on the chemical composition of the semiconductor layers, the color of light emission will vary within the electromagnetic spectrum.
The individual diodes are grouped together to form a traffic signal where depending on the individual LED size up to several hundred “lamps” are packaged into an array to form a traffic signal head. Two styles of LED traffic signals known as the diffused and pixilated style are commonly used. In the pixilated style the actual LED array is visible within the traffic signal head while the diffused lens provides a uniform appearance similar to an incandescent signal.
LED’s are much more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts for several reasons. LED’s produce uniform light dispersion and light output is dispersed evenly over the lens which make them brighter than incandescent lamps. LED’s are very energy efficient producing up to 90 percent light output with very little heat while incandescent bulbs use up to 90 percent of their energy generating heat. Incandescent lamps only produce white light which must be filtered for traffic signal use, and this leads to an additional loss in energy. LEDs, on the other hand, produce colored light that does not need to be filtered out – all of the energy is concentrated around one color band and none is “wasted” on undesired colors.
8. A light-emitting diode, or LED, is a type of solid-state lighting that uses a semiconductor to convert electricity into light. Today’s LED bulbs can be six-seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lights and cut energy use by more than 80 percent.
7. Good-quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more — meaning they can last more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs. That is a life of more than three years if run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
6. Unlike incandescent bulbs — which release 90 percent of their energy as heat — LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat.
5. From traffic lights and vehicle brake lights to TVs and display cases, LEDs are used in a wide range of applications because of their unique characteristics, which include compact size, ease of maintenance, resistance to breakage, and the ability to focus the light in a single direction instead of having it go every which way.
4. LEDs contain no mercury, and a recent Energy Department study determined that LEDs have a much smaller environmental impact than incandescent bulbs. They also have an edge over compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that’s expected to grow over the next few years as LED technology continues its steady improvement.
3. Since the Energy Department started funding solid-state lighting R&D in 2000, these projects have received 58 patents. Some of the most successful projects include developing new ways to use materials, extract more light, and solve the underlying technical challenges. Most recently, the Energy Department announced five new projects that will focus on cutting costs by improving manufacturing equipment and processes.
2. The first visible-spectrum LED was invented by Nick Holonyak, Jr., while working for GE in 1962. Since then, the technology has rapidly advanced and costs have dropped tremendously, making LEDs a viable lighting solution. Between 2011 and 2012, global sales of LED replacement bulbs increased by 22 percent while the cost of a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb fell by nearly 40 percent. By 2030, it’s estimated that LEDs will account for 75 percent of all lighting sales.
1. In 2012, about 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. — saving about $675 million in annual energy costs. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Lighting representative firm attempts to go all LED in new office, and adds multiple control technologies to minimize power density.
+++++This article was published in the Summer 2013 issue of IIF Magazine.
View the Table of Contents and download the PDF file of the complete Summer 2013 issue, or view the E-zine version in your browser.
Toronto-area lighting representative Salex moved into a new office this past spring, and the move gave the firm the opportunity to demonstrate the broad variety of LED-based lighting products that are now on the market. The team was able to exclusively use LED luminaires indoors and out with the exception of a single fixture. The project included installation of three different adaptive control technologies in various parts of the office, that along with the efficient solid-state lighting (SSL) deliver a typical power density of 0.5W/ft2.
The new Salex facility includes 8000 ft2 of office space and that indoor space is our primary focus here. Salex applications manager Michael Smolyansky said that it’s the “only such building in the greater Toronto area” that is essentially all LED lit. The firm represents more than 50 lighting manufacturers and the team working on the new office sought to showcase the many different ways LEDs could be used while still providing pleasing aesthetics and energy efficiency. Smolyansky added, “We are looking forward to not only working in this new building, but educating our clients and suppliers about lighting design as well.”
Nick Puopolo, a principal in Salex, said the goal was to use as many different products as possible without the result looking like a showroom. Indeed, each office uses a different set of luminaires while some of the most compelling design work is in common areas such as the lounge, lobby, and boardroom. Puopolo said, “We were trying to show the wide variety of LED products in pendants, downlights, recessed fixtures, and others.”
The team also sought to dispel any notion that LED lighting would not work in an office and the result, as you can see in the photos, delivers aesthetically. “This is what an LED office looks like,” added Puopolo. “It’s not little twinkly lights.”
The office lounge (as seen on the cover and frontis above) provides an excellent example of the diversity of products utilized in the project and some interesting architectural work. In the remodel, the team created a dropped ceiling above the couch area of the lounge in front of where the TV is mounted. That dropped ceiling allowed the use of both recessed direct lighting and indirect color-tunable lighting mounted in the cove created above the dropped ceiling.
In the L-shaped recessed channels in the dropped ceiling, the team installed some linear fixtures and some spots. The spots are 3000K Delta Light fixtures that deliver 580 lm. Delta Light LEDSTRIP fixtures provide the direct linear lighting. And SGi Lighting color-tunable LED Flex strips are used in the cove.
The suspended spotlights in pendants used above the tables are also from Delta Light. In the kitchen area, the team used Juno Danalite linear fixtures both under the cabinets for direct light on the counters, and above the cabinets providing indirect light reflected off the ceiling. The fixture above the billiard table is the only non-LED fixture in the office. Puopolo said the team couldn’t find a suitable LED product. The Stretto fixture from Molto Luce uses a T5 high-output linear fluorescent tube but is still dimmable.
As we will cover in more detail shortly, much of the office lighting is controllable in various ways including via a DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) network in parts of the office. But the team used a relatively simple control from SGi Lighting for local control of the color-tunable cove fixtures. That decision was intended to make a point. Puopolo said, “You don’t have to install expensive controls to implement color-changing lighting.” He said the local control panel and cove-mounted controller cost $800. That’s far less than what you would spend on a DALI-based control system.
Lobby and office
The team also used color-tunable lighting in the lobby area using Medley fixtures from Insight Lighting. The tunable lighting was used again with a distinctive architectural feature. The room includes what Puopolo calls a feature wall that includes circular patterns that are both concave and convex (see Photo 1). The tunable fixtures are hidden in a cove and cast interesting effects on the textures of the wall. A 3-ft-diameter Delta Supernova luminaire surface mounted on the ceiling provides most of the ambient light in the space.
The individual offices in the building are relatively uniform in shape and size, but the lighting design is unique in each. For example, one of the offices uses Selux M36 linear fixtures in a pendant version (see Photo 2). The fixtures are cascaded, forming an L shape, and provide ambient and task lighting. A series of Delta Tweeter downlights complement the linear lighting.
To light the cubicle workspace in the open office area, the team primarily relied on LRTF LED troffers from Visioneering (see Photo 3). Puopolo said the team chose the basket-style fixtures to get the combination of an indirect effect on the ceiling and optimum direct task lighting. Surface-mount fixtures, recessed linear strips, and downlights complement the troffers around the perimeter of the open area.
Salex’s boardroom is the last of the lighting designs that we will discuss before moving on to the controls. The boardroom combines a mix of decorative fixtures, recessed lighting in the ceiling, and wall-mounted linear lighting (see Photo 4).
The prominently placed Borden Lighting Fabric Shade Drum pendants serve more for decorative purposes, according to Puopolo. He said the team utilized the fixtures primarily because products with such a distinctive look are often only offered with legacy sources. But the Borden fixtures are LED based and do provide relatively uniform indirect and direct lighting.
The linear ceiling lighting, oriented as a recessed rectangle that is roughly the size of the conference table, provides the bulk of the lighting in the room. Selux M100 fixtures form the rectangle. And the flangeless design integrates smoothly with the ceiling.
The linear lighting that outlines the wall upon which the presentation monitor is mounted serves to simulate an architectural feature. The surface-mounted Delta Reunion fixtures hide the linear sources inside a frame with a right-angle bend and the light is directed toward the wall. Puopolo said the “LED channel” makes it look like the wall is floating.
The boardroom also offers a good place to start with the controls angle of the Salex project (see Photo 5). Controls are necessary to maximize energy savings and can also provide a level of luxury. Puopolo said that most office projects use higher-end controls in a space such as the boardroom, and a simpler, less-expensive technology in other spaces. Salex installed a high-end Crestron Electronics system in the boardroom along with two different technologies in the separate private office and open office areas.
The boardroom features a touch-sensitive panel that is capable of controlling the lights in the room individually or based on preset scenes. For example, the ceiling-based fixtures nearest the wall-mounted presentation monitor can be separately dimmed or extinguished during video or slide presentations. The Crestron system can also control the HVAC system, raise or lower the shades, and control the A/V system.
For the open office area, the team specified the Visioneering troffers with a DALI dimming option. Puopolo said that DALI is a relatively expensive choice relative to controlling groups of fixtures with 0–10V controls, for example, but the individual fixture addressability can pay big dividends. A DALI network can still enable logical grouping of fixtures, but those configurations can be easily changed.
Puopolo pointed out, for instance, that individual fixture controls allow building owners the flexibility to reconfigure office space and even add or subtract walls without retrofitting the lighting. He also said that individual control is a requisite for optimum use of daylighting. Salex can program control of the open office lighting using software on a PC, an iPad, or the Crestron control panel in the boardroom that also connects to the DALI network.
The private offices, meanwhile, use the low-voltage WattStopper technology from Legrand. The company calls the system Digital Lighting Management, and within an office sensors, switches or control panels, wall outlets, and light fixtures are connected with RJ-45 cables such as those used for computer networks. Each office is bridged to a BACnet building management network and can be controlled by the building-management software. The implementation allows employees personal control of the lighting in their workspace, and the ability to remotely control the lighting.
Sensing and savings
The various control technologies in the Salex office building all include distributed occupancy sensors that can dim or extinguish lighting in any given area without any assistance from a centralized system. Puopolo said the facility is configured to extinguish lights in any area ten minutes after people leave the area, whether the area in question is a private office or the lounge. He said when the employees leave the office and lock the door at the end of the day, they don’t touch light controls. The office simply goes dark in ten minutes.
Dimming is also critical to savings even when employees are present. The only lighting in the indoor space that is not dimmable is the cabinet lighting in the lounge; it is either off or on. The remainder can be incrementally dimmed.
Puopolo said that throughout the office most of the fixtures can deliver 60 fc on a task plane. With the full office lit, and no lights extinguished by occupancy sensors, Puopolo said the installation realizes a power density of 0.75W/ft2.
Rarely are such levels required. Puopolo said the lighting is set to deliver 40 fc when workers are present, noting that all the space is rarely occupied, even if office vacancies are due to a meeting in the boardroom. He noted typical power density during the work day is 0.5W/ft2.
The Salex lighting design clearly exceeds the ASHRAE/IES 90.1 guidelines published in 2010 that are still the most current building codes until January 1, 2014 when the code will be updated. The 2012 standard specifies a maximum power density of 1W/ft2.
What is equally important is that the design met the company’s aesthetics goals. Puopolo said, “It had to look like a normal functioning office.” As the photos illustrate, the design delivered on that requirement.
Being energy-efficient and environmentally conscious has progressed from simply being a good idea to a way of life – not just for the Toyota Prius crowd, but for businesses looking to cut their overhead expenditures by reducing their carbon footprint (and additionally appealing to a more green savvy clientele). One way companies can be on the cutting edge of corporate concern for their energy expenditure is by switching to LED lights.
LEDs are light emitting diodes, small electronic devices that give off far more light per unit of electricity than traditional fluorescent lights or lamps. They are typically more expensive than older methods of providing light, but the money they will end up saving means the expense pays for itself. Here are five reasons why businesses should switch to LED lights:
1. LEDs Last Longer Than Incandescent Lights
The New York Times compared LED lights to regular light bulbs, and found that the LED lights were good for up to 50,000 hours of illumination – compared to just a maximum of 2,000 hours for the regular. For a business, this would mean spending much less money on doing regular facility-wide installations, when older, and less efficient bulbs inevitably burn out. LED lights don’t even burn out – they “fade away”, according to the New York Times, simply producing less amounts of light, but never dramatically sparking into darkness the way regular bulbs do. Even at the end of their 50,000th hour of operation, LED lights will continue to produce an estimated 70% of their maximum illuminating potential, thereby saving a business a fortune on having to replace their lighting system every 2,000 hours of use.
2. LEDs Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions
LEDs can save up to 70% of a company’s energy output, says Phys.org, a research, technology and science website. The statistic is impressive, but what does it mean for a business on a practical level? Reducing carbon emissions means reducing the consumption of energy. As an example, Buckingham Palace turned to LEDs for their ceiling lights. As an example, illuminating the official residence of the Queen of England uses literally less electricity than making a cup of tea. A business that uses LEDs for their lighting needs will slash their monthly overhead budget considerably.
3. Switching To LEDs Can Make Money
Thanks to President Barack Obama’s stimulus package to reward the implementation of “green” infrastructural investment, there’s actually money to be made from your business using LEDs, not just money saved. The President promised to give environmentally friendly companies help in leading by example in how such businesses might go about reducing their carbon footprint. As part of the 2009 stimulus package, the federal government awarded $34 billion in government investments to companies that showed their initiative in converting to energy efficient methods of doing business. This could mean that an organization receives federal funds to help with the logistical implementation of a large-scale LED lighting system, thereby saving money on the necessity of having to contract the work out to a third party.
4. LEDs Are The Future
For a while, the idea of LEDs replacing traditional methods of illumination was disregarded. However, a Californian electronic consulting agency predicts that the LED industry will reach $1 billion by the end of 2013. Corporate juggernauts like General Electric and Philips have joined the bandwagon and commenced manufacturing LEDs, with GE buying an LED startup company that expected to see growth of $15 million in a single year. The idea that using LEDs to light an office is no longer on the fringe, and is instead very serious business.
5. LEDs Improve Appearances
At the risk of flirting with vanity, making a good first appearance can convince a client or a customer to do business with your organization. The quality of light produced by LEDs over traditional incandescent fixtures can literally improve the ambient illumination of your office space. Older lamps shift as they age, casting unseemly shadows and even unwanted colors. LED bulbs spread light wider than their fluorescent counterparts, giving a more even distribution of light and making a facility seem more naturally, aesthetically lit.
Nick Holonyak was sure the LED would replace the incandescent light bulb when he presented it to GE executives 50 years ago. While the incandescent is still king in homes across the nation, the LED has transformed lighting in more ways than Holonyak could have imagined.
From those first dim red diodes to powerful streetlights in major cities, the LED has made its mark on the world.
THE UBIQUITOUS RED LED
The first LEDs were red. This wasn’t an aesthetic choice. LEDs are made by building layers of semiconductor crystals on a wafer. As the layers are added, dopants are added to determine the color of the LED. The tiny wafer is placed into molten liquid and metal contacts and leads are then added. The mixture used in the first LEDs — gallium arsenide phosphide — produces a natural red color. That’s why red became the default color choice for so many indicator lights.
New processes have delivered a rainbow of available LED colors, making them suitable for far more than battery indicators and warning lights. But for the first 10 years of their existence, LEDs were red.
THE FIRST POCKET CALCULATOR
As relatively inexpensive, low-power LEDs began replacing incandescent bulbs in electronics, prices for those electronics fell into a much more consumer-friendly range.
The Busicom LE-120A “HANDY-LE” was the first calculator to use the relatively new segment LEDs in a display. A seven-segment LED display contains seven individual LEDs with one display package. The $400 calculator appeared on the market in January 1971 and was in the pockets of nerds everywhere by Valentine’s Day.
THE FIRST LED WATCH
The centuries-old art of watchmaking also felt the presence of the LED when, in 1972, Pulsar introduced the first LED watch. Dubbed the Time Computer, the watch was reportedly accurate to within 60 seconds per year. It cost $2,100 because it was the first to utilize LED technology in a small package and it relied on electronics to tell the time. Unfortunately, all this new technology devoured batteries, which is why the watch required the wearer to press a button to see the time.
Pulsar introduced a calculator watch in 1975, which, not coincidentally, is right about the time teachers started requiring students to show their work on math tests.
FROM INDICATOR TO LIGHT SOURCE
In 1993, Shuji Nakamura had a breakthrough in doping (the name for the process by which manufacturers introduce impurities into an LED to change its color properties) that led to bright blue LEDs. Blue LEDs with yellow phosphor coatings gave us the white LED and a whole host of new applications. Suddenly, the LED could be more than just a red dot telling you that you’d left your Walkman on; now it could illuminate the world.
As LEDs grew brighter, the flashlight industry switched over from incandescent lights. The flashlights used less power, and the bulbs never had to be replaced. Now it’s difficult to find a flashlight without LED bulbs.
LA Gear introduced a light-up shoe in 1992. Initially marketed to children, the shoes had a red LED that would light up when pressure was applied to the heel. It was a goofy idea that was the bright spot on a rather glum year for the shoe company.
The company had so much faith in the future of light-up footwear, it introduced an adult version called Light Gear. Yes, they were for Robert Downey Jr. and the Batman movies; the ’90s were a weird time for shoes.
The optical mouse was invented in the early ’80s. But it wasn’t until 1999, when Microsoft introduced the IntelliMouse Optical, that the technology became widely available. The mouse replaced the filth-attracting roller ball with a bright LED.
The mouse used image sensors in conjunction with an LED to track the movements of the mouse on any surface. It also signaled the end of the perpetually disgusting mouse pad.
FROM LED BACKLIGHTING TO OLED
The world of HDTVs has moved at an incredible pace in the past 15 years. The CRT is out and HDTV is in. One important component of all this has been, yes, the LED. LED backlighting replaced CCFL-backlighting, delivering higher contrast ratios and an improved color gamut. Plus, the resulting TVs used less electricity.
The first TV with LED-backlighting was the $10,000 Sony Qualiia 005. Introduced in 2004, the 46-inch TV transformed the entire industry. Currently a 60-inch HDTV with LED backlighting will set you back about $1,500 to $2,000. But the LED invasion of HDTVs didn’t stop with backlighting.
LG showed off a 55-inch ultra-thin OLED HDTVs at 2012’s CES. The organic carbon-based compounds in the OLED can be illuminated with an electrical current, with no need for an additional backlighting. The result: The TV is only 4 millimeters thick and weighs just 16 pounds. OLEDs also use less power, offer better viewing angles, produce richer colors, and have higher contrast ratios than LCD TVs. One catch: As with the first backlit-LED TVs, LG’s 55-inch showpiece has an early adopter price: $8,000.
LIGHT UP THE ROAD
Changing out the lights on a car can be a pain, with proprietary fasteners, awkward panels, and random engine components blocking access.
For the 2010 A8 L, Audi replaced all the incandescent lights with LEDs. The lights will probably last longer than the car. Other German carmakers followed suit. The long lifespans and low power needs of LEDs make them ideal for vehicles. But beyond practical considerations, there’s an undeniable cool factor, too.
CFL light bulbs give your home the pleasant ambiance of a morgue. While the move away from incandescent lights is inevitable, the shift a new home lighting technology is at a crossroads. CFLs have been on the market for years but lack the warmth of the traditional light bulb.
LEDs can recreate that warmth with less electricity, but they are prone to overheating. Plus, like CFLs, they can be pricey. That hasn’t stopped companies like huge corporations like Philips and GE from introducing new LED lights.
But these companies are not alone. Lighting upstart Switch is working on bringing its own LED light bulb to the market. It’s a beautiful piece of technology that makes you want to throw your lamp shades away.
The new section of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland is scheduled to open in September 2013. When it does, individually focused LED lights will guide passengers across the span without the windshield glare of standard streetlights.
The use of LEDs to light roadways isn’t new. Los Angeles is currently retrofitting its street lamps with LEDs to reduce energy costs. It is the first time that the light is purposely focused to reduce glare while presenting an uninterrupted carpet of light on the road.
Plus, the lights won’t have to be changed for 20 years.
The consumption of fossil fuels has been going at a steady pace since last century and has contributed much to the degradation of our environment. Climate change, global warming, extinction of several endangered species, depletion of ozone layer, increase in air pollution are few of the effects from which our environment is suffering. Although many countries have taken steps to move toward clean and green energy sources like solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy to save energy, still there is long way to go before we can leave fossil fuels behind and depend on these natural sources of energy for our daily needs.
Below are 151 ways that you can use to save and conserve energy and make this planet a better and clean place for our future generations to come.
1. Inspect windows and ductwork for any air leakage. If you do feel air leaking at duct joints, use duct tape to seal them. Winterize windows with weather stripping (for all movable parts) and caulk (for non-moving parts). Eliminating these leaks can reduce heating costs up to 10%.
2. Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans sparingly. Leaving them on too long will suck away a tremendous amount of household heat. Turn them off when their job is complete.
3. Turn down your thermostat at night or when you’re away for more than four hours during the day. Do not turn off your heating system entirely as this may cause pipes to freeze.
4. Keep heating supply registers and cold-air return registers clear of draperies and furniture to maintain proper air circulation.
5. Keep drapes and shades open during the day to let the sunshine in; close them at night.
6. Dust or vacuum radiator surfaces frequently. Dust and grime impede the flow of heat.
7. Keep lamps, TVs and other electrical appliances away from the thermostat. Heat from these appliances is sensed by the thermostat and could cause your furnace to shut off too soon and restart frequently.
8. Dress warmly to help retain body heat. Wear closely woven fabrics. Dressing in layers retains more heat than a single thick piece of clothing.
9. Keep garage doors closed in winter. An open garage door is just a giant hole that sucks warm air out of your home and lets cold drafts in.
10. When having company, turn down the thermostat before your guests arrive. Their collective body heat will add to the room temperature.
11. Warm with a space heater. A portable space heater can heat a single room without using your furnace to heat the whole house. Using a space heater to heat all or most of your home costs more. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions when operating space heaters.
12. Use natural gas for heating. Consider switching to a natural gas heating system. Natural gas is less expensive than other heating fuels.
13. Boil water in a kettle or covered pan; the water will boil faster and use less energy.
14. Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean. They will reflect heat better and you will save energy.
15. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan, and less will be dissipated.
16. Turn off the stove or oven five to 10 minutes before cooking time is up and let trapped heat finish the cooking.
17. Avoid opening the oven door repeatedly to check food while it cooks. This allows heat to escape and requires more energy to complete the job. Use a timer to let you know when food is ready.
18. Use small electric cooking appliances (such as portable grills and skillets) for small meals rather than the stove or oven.
19. Don’t preheat the oven unless absolutely necessary and then for no more than 10 minutes.
20. Avoid using the broiler as much as possible; it uses a great deal of energy.
21. Thaw frozen foods thoroughly before cooking.
22. Barbecue outside as much as possible during warm weather months. Cooking inside raises the temperature forcing your refrigerator and central air to work harder to cool your rooms.
23. Cook during cooler hours (early morning and late evening) whenever possible.
24. Use a microwave to cook meals whenever possible; it uses about half the energy of a conventional oven.
25. Use crock pots and slow cookers; they can be as much at 75% more energy efficient than stoves and ovens.
26. After using your oven, leave it open a crack to let warm air escape into your kitchen. (Don’t do this if you have children or pets around).
27. Use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Microwaves, toaster ovens and slow-cookers can use 75 percent less energy than a large electric oven.
28. Water heaters should be close to kitchen so that it does not have to travel through a long distance of pipe and lose its heat.
29. Purchase an energy-efficient model. The initial cost may be more but operating costs are less in the long run. Consider a tank less or instantaneous water heater, which uses energy only when hot water is needed, rather than maintaining 40 gallons or more of hot water all the time.
30. Purchase the correct size. Consider your family’s hot water needs. If your water heater is too large, it uses more energy than needed. If it is too small, you may run out of hot water.
31. Purchase a natural gas water heater. If you currently have an electric water heater, consider replacing it with a natural gas water heater. When it comes to heating water, natural gas is less expensive than electricity, and it heats more water faster during heavy use. Consider a sealed combustion or an on-demand water heater. Both types use less energy.
32. Install your water heater near the kitchen. The kitchen is where you use the hottest water. When the water heater is located near the kitchen, hot water doesn’t have to travel as far and less heat is lost.
33. Insulate water pipes. Use half-inch foam or pipe tape for insulation wherever pipes are exposed. On cold water pipes, insulate four to five feet nearest to the water heater. Pipe insulation can save you up to $25 annually.
34. Set the water temperature to 120° F. It takes less energy to heat water to a lower temperature. If you have an electric water heater, you’ll have to remove the cover plate of the thermostat to adjust the temperature. For safety reasons, remember to turn off the water heater at the circuit breaker/fuse before changing the temperature.
35. Repair dripping faucets promptly. If the faucet leaks hot water, the energy used to heat it is costing you money. (One drop a second can waste up to 48 gallons a week!)
36. Install a heat loop or in-line trap. If you add a new water heater to your home, consider having a heat loop or in-line trap installed. These mechanisms can be inexpensive to install and keep hot water from moving into the piping system when you are not using hot water. Ask your plumbing contractor for details.
37. Insulate the outside of your electric water heater with an insulation blanket to reduce heat loss; this can easily save you $10 to $20 per year.
38. Turn down your hot water heater to its lowest setting when you go on vacation or are away from the house for an extended time period.
39. Drain a bucket of water out of the hot water heater once a year to remove sediment and dirty water and improve heating efficiency.
FANS & LIGHTING
40. Use Energy Star LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Energy Star light bulbs last longer and use up to 80 percent less energy than standard light bulbs.
41. Use LED lighting fixtures for outdoor lighting (spot lights, flood lights, security lights). They use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent luminaires.
42. Turn off lights in any room not being used. Turn on outdoor lights only when needed.
43. When using incandescent bulbs, use the lowest wattage possible or convenient. In many cases a lower wattage bulb can be substituted for the one currently being used.
44. Light-zone your home to save electricity. Concentrate lighting to areas where needed for reading, work and safety. Reduce lighting in little used areas.
45. Install lighting dimmer switches; they save energy by reducing the lighting intensity in a room, and work great with LED bulbs.
46. Keep light bulbs dust-free. Dust on bulbs could be reducing your light output by 50%.
47. Use timers, motion detectors, heat sensors or photocell controls for light fixtures when possible.
48. Use satin or semi-gloss paint on your walls will reflect more light and allow you to use lower watt bulbs.
49. Put your computer to sleep instead of using a screen saver.
50. Laser printers use an incredible amount of energy. Switch to ink-jet printers.
51. Get rid of your CRT monitor. CRT monitors are energy hogs. Get an LCD or LED monitor for your computer instead.
52. Dump your desktop computer. Laptops use a fraction of the electricity that desktop use.
ROOM AIR CONDITIONER
53. Don’t over-cool. The ideal thermostat setting is between 75°F and 78°F. Every degree you raise your thermostat can result in a 5% savings on the cost of cooling your home.
54. Keep lamps, televisions and other heat sources away from the air conditioner thermostat. Heat from these sources may cause the air conditioner unit to run longer than it should.
55. Make sure that no furniture or other obstacles are blocking ducts or fans. This will enable cooled air to circulate more freely.
56. When selecting a central air conditioning unit, be sure to choose one that is sized appropriately for your home and uses the minimal amount of electricity to complete its task. Air conditioners with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEERs) – such as 13.0 SEER and above – provide the greatest energy efficiency.
57. Install a ventilating fan in your attic or in an upstairs window to help dissipate hot air and cool down your home.
58. Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn your air conditioner on. It will not cool the room any faster, but it will use more energy.
59. Use a ceiling fan in conjunction with your air conditioner to spread cooled air to other rooms.
60. Clean the outside air conditioner condenser coil once a year. Turn off the unit and spray the coils with water at a low pressure to remove dirt, dust, leaves and grime.
61. Use duct tape to seal the cracks between each section of an air duct on your central air conditioning or forced heating system.
62. Close your blinds, curtains and shades during the hottest part of the day. Keep out the daytime sun with vertical louvers or awnings on the outside of your windows.
63. Keep lights low or off when not needed. Electric lights generate unnecessary room heat.
REFRIGERATORS & FREEZERS
64. Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator at least every three months. Dust and dirt build-up makes the refrigerator work harder and uses more energy.
65. Set the refrigerator thermostat at 38 degrees F for fresh food compartments and 5 degrees F for the freezer compartment.
66. Regularly defrost your freezer. Frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the refrigerator at its proper temperature. Never allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
67. Don’t place your refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or near the stove.
68. Make sure your refrigerator door seals airtight. Test them by closing the door on a piece of paper or dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or dollar out easily, the hinge may need adjusting or the seal may need replacing.
69. Keep the refrigerator door closed. Each time you open the refrigerator, up to 1/4 of the cold air inside can leak out. Stop making unnecessary trips to the fridge.
70. Purchase an Energy Star, European EcoLabel, or Energy Saving Trust Recommended model. When buying a new refrigerator or freezer, look for the Energy Star, European EcoLabel, or Energy Saving Trust Recommended label. These refrigerators and freezers can save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill over the life of the appliance. Remember, older refrigerators and freezers use two to three times more electricity than ones that are 10 years old or less.
71. Select the right size. Determine your household’s needs before purchasing a refrigerator or freezer. One that is too large wastes energy.
72. Only use one refrigerator or freezer. You can spend up to $120 in electricity per year using a second refrigerator or freezer. If you want to use a second refrigerator or freezer during holidays or for special occasions, turn it on one to two days before you need it.
73. Defrost a manual-defrost unit regularly. Frost makes your unit work harder and wastes energy. Don’t allow more than one-quarter inch of frost to build up.
74. Stay away from direct heat. Place the refrigerator or freezer away from direct sunlight and other heat sources such as ovens or ranges. Heat will cause the unit to use more energy to stay cold.
75. When buying a dishwasher, look for an energy-efficient model with air power or overnight dry setting. These features automatically turn off the dishwasher after the rinse cycle. This can save you up to 10% of your dishwashing energy costs.
76. Scrape dishes and rinse with cold water before loading them into the dishwasher. Avoid using the dishwasher’s pre-rinse cycle.
77. Don’t use the “rinse-hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses several gallons of hot water each time you use it.
78. Run full loads. Always wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher. Full loads use the same amount of hot water and energy as smaller loads. You run fewer loads and save energy.
79. Use short cycles. Select the shortest cycle that properly cleans your dishes. Shorter cycles use less hot water and less energy.
80. Skip rinsing the dishes. If you do rinse, use cold water.
81. Clean the filter. If your dishwasher has a filter screen, clean it regularly. A clean appliance runs more efficiently.
82. Don’t bother pre-rinsing dishes with the idea that your dishwasher will work less hard.
BUYING NEW APPLIANCES
83. Remember that it pays to invest in energy efficiency. In some cases, the money you save in energy costs can pay back the purchase price in just a few years.
84. Always read the Energy Guide label carefully, and make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples.” Energy use can range significantly even within a single brand.
85. Choose the capacity that’s right for your family. Whether it’s a furnace or a refrigerator, it doesn’t pay to purchase a unit that’s too large or too small.
86. In almost every case, a natural gas appliance is more economical to use than an electric model. The $50-75 price difference can be paid back in energy savings in less than a year.
87. Replace inefficient appliances – even if they’re still working. An aging water heater or refrigerator could be costing you much more than you think. If your central air conditioner is more than 10 years old, replacing it with a high-efficiency new unit will cut your summer electric bills by about one-third. And make sure to RECYCLE the old appliance!
88. Shop during the off-season. Many heating and cooling manufacturers offer significant rebates during seasonal sales promotions, and dealers may charge less for installation.
89. Investigate new technology carefully. Some innovations, like convection ovens or argon-filled windows, may save energy and make life more convenient; others, such as commercial-grade kitchen appliances, might be merely expensive cosmetic enhancements.
90. Look for the “Energy Star,” European EcoLabel,” or “Energy Saving Trust Recommended” logo. This designation from the Environmental Protection Agency or the European Union means that the appliance exceeds minimum federal energy- use standards, usually by a significant amount.
91. Don’t forget to ask about warranties, service contracts, and delivery and installation costs.
WASHER, DRYER & LAUNDRY
92. Wash clothes in warm or cold water instead of hot water. Rinse in cold water; this can save you about $50 per year.
93. Put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wet clothes. The towel will absorb dampness and reduce drying time, thus saving energy and money.
94. Fill washers and clothes dryers but do not overload them.
95. Clean the lint screen after each load of laundry and check the exhaust regularly. Clogged, dirty lint screens and exhausts can increase drying time and energy usage.
96. Use a front-loading washing machine; they require less water and energy than other washing machines.
97. Use less detergent and skip the extra rinse cycle on your washing machine to save water and time. If your clothes need to be rinsed twice, you’re using too much soap.
98. Adjust the water level. If you have a washer that allows you to control the load’s water level, adjust the level according to laundry load size. You can save energy by using less hot water for small loads.
99. Run full loads. Always run a full load in your washer or dryer. Running a partial load uses the same amount of energy as a full load – but you get less done. Running full loads allows you to run your washer or dryer less often.
100. Dry your clothes on an outside clothesline whenever possible
101. Rinse in cold water. Rinse water temperature has no effect on cleaning. Rinsing with cold water saves money by heating less water.
102. Place the washer close to the water heater. Water loses heat as it flows through pipes. When the washer is located near the water heater, hot water doesn’t have to travel as far to reach the washer, and less heat is lost. Insulating the pipes between the water heater and washer helps retain heat, too
103. Put indoor and outdoor lights on timers.
104. Don’t leave your lights on 24/7 while you’re away.
105. Put water heater on the vacation setting, if it has one.
106. Choose green-rated hotels when travelling for business or pleasure.
107. Pull the plug on battery chargers. Laptops, cell phones and digital cameras always draw power if they’re plugged in.
108. If you travel at 105 km/h instead of 90 km/h, you are penalized by lowering your L/100km 12.5 percent. If you get your vehicle up to 120 km/h, you’re losing 25 percent compared with L/100km at 90 km/h.
109. A loaded roof rack can decrease an SUV’s fuel efficiency by 5 percent and that of a more aerodynamic car by 15 percent or more.
110. Stick with regular. If your car’s manufacturer specifies regular gas, don’t buy premium with the thought of going faster or operating more efficiently. Consider diesel over petrol when buying a new car. If petrol only option, consider a hybrid.
111. After starting the car in the morning, begin driving right away; don’t let it sit and “warm up” for several minutes.
112. If your windows don’t have a low-E coating, consider applying a self-adhesive film on the glass.
113. Use reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap.
114. Bring a reusable water bottle! Packaged bottled water is a waste and highly inefficient in most of the developed world.
115. Train myself or an employee to become an Energy Conservation Officer.
116. Making conservation someone’s responsibility will set your business on the path of saving energy.
117. Participate in an OPA commercial demand response program.
118. Install effective automatic door closer. Doors can’t save energy if they’re not closed
119. Educate and encourage employees who identify and implement energy savings.
120. Reward the people who work with me for their innovative, money-saving ideas.
121. Celebrate the implementation of successful energy efficiency measures.
122. Ensure meeting rooms are equipped with motion sensing light switches.
AT WORK- EMPLOYEES
123. Turn off meeting room lights when not in use.
124. In the summer, unnecessary lighting can increase air conditioning load.
125. Dim, turn off or remove lights near windows in the daytime.
126. Use efficient task lighting where needed.
127. Unplug coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves. Make sure they’re unplugged on weekends and before shutting the office down for the holidays.
128. Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator. It not only saves energy, it’s good exercise too.
129. Consider double-sided printing, re-using paper, and using e-mail instead of mailing or faxing documents.
130. When driving, avoid quick breaking and starting as it decreases mileage.
131. Don’t run your car unnecessarily. Idling produces many pollutants and burns unnecessary fuel.
132. If you can travel at off peak hours or use public transport, do so. Traffic jams only create more pollution, waste fuel, and cause stress!
133. Keep your tires properly inflated-under-inflated tires will reduce mileage.
134. Use premium unleaded gasoline as it is more efficient. If possible, use clean burning diesel.
135. Use air conditioning only when it is necessary.
136. Open window or close them to adjust the heat instead of using the air conditioner.
137. Park in a shade to prevent your car from overheating and reliance on air-conditioning.
138. Service your air conditioner to ensure it works efficiently and it does not leak CFC’s.
139. Turn off your engine if you are stopping for any more than 30 seconds.
140. Drive slowly, my L/100km indicator runs at highest efficiency at 90 km/h on motorways.
OTHER ENERGY SAVERS
141. Get rid of spare refrigerators or freezers. An extra appliance can add more than $100 to your energy bills every year, and it’s a safety hazard for small children.
142. Keep outdoor hot tubs covered when not in use. If you have a pool, use a solar cover to use the natural warmth of the sun to heat the water.
143. Keep waterbeds covered with quilts or blankets to help retain their heat. You might also want to insulate the bottom with a sheet of rigid foam insulation.
144. Keep the garage door closed, especially during the winter.
145. If you need a new lawn mower, consider an electric model. They’re less expensive to operate (about three cents of electricity per use), 75 percent quieter, and they significantly reduce toxic emissions.
146. Instead of air-polluting and expensive charcoal or propane, try an electric or natural gas grill. They’re more economical and more convenient – you’ll never run out of fuel.
147. Unplug any electrical device that’s not being used. Many appliances, especially computers and televisions draw power even when turned off.
148. Place humidifiers and dehumidifiers away from walls and bulky furniture. These appliances work best when air circulates freely around them. Be sure to clean the unit often to prevent unhealthy mold and bacteria from developing.
149. If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings. This will help block cold air.
150. When you take a vacation, don’t forget to give your appliances a rest too. Turn off and unplug everything you can, set your water heater to the lowest setting and shut off the water supply to the dishwasher and washing machine.
151. Use public transit whenever possible.
At today’s prices, switching to LED light bulbs is finally an easy decision.
Just a couple decades ago, light bulbs were light bulbs. No matter your budget, you really had only one choice when it came to interior lighting options for your home: Head to the hardware store and pick up some incandescent bulbs, choosing a wattage based on how bright you needed the light to be.
But in recent years, technology has brought us bulbs — namely, CFLs and LEDs — that put incandescent lighting to shame. Not only are these new options more energy efficient, they can also last years, or even decades, longer than the standard light bulb we all remember from our childhoods.
And while prices for LED light bulbs were astronomical when we first covered this topic just a few years ago — upwards of $100 for one bulb — you can now pick up a cheap, 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulb for less than $5.
That’s probably why incandescent light bulbs are being phased out: An almost complete ban on their sale started in 2014 and will take full effect in 2020. Simply put, they waste a lot of energy and don’t last very long.
As incandescent light bulbs around the country burn out for the last time, let’s look at the other options available. Cost will obviously be a factor as you make your decision, but there are other variables you should consider as well.
CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs: What’s the Difference?
Let’s examine the two most popular new light bulb options, CFLs and LEDs, and look at the advantages and disadvantages that come with each.
CFLs: Compact Fluorescent Lights
According to EnergyStar.gov, CFLs work differently than incandescent bulbs in that, instead of running an electric current through a wire filament, they drive an electric current through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. This process creates ultraviolet light that quickly translates into visible light, unlike incandescent lights which put off a warm glow.
The big difference between CFLs and incandescent bulbs is how much energy it takes to use them over time. CFLs use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last years longer than traditional bulbs, and only cost about a dollar more per bulb.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks of CFLs is that it takes a few moments for them to warm up and reach full brightness. That means they’re not ideal in spots where you want lots of light as soon as you flip the switch, such as a dark, steep basement stairway. They also cannot be used with a dimmer switch.
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, were for years most commonly found in small electronic displays, such as the clock on your cable box. Because the light emitted by each tiny LED is directional and fairly weak, household LED bulbs were on the fringe of mainstream technology just a few years ago.
According to the Lighting Research Center, LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed.
What sets LEDs apart from incandescent bulbs and CFLs is just how long they can last. According to Consumer Reports, LED light bulbs can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market.
But that combination of efficiency and durability has historically come at a cost. LEDs cost more money than CFLs and incandescent bulbs. The good news, however, is that their price has dropped considerably over the years.
Where once it was common to pay $50 or even $100 for an LED light bulb, they’re now available for about $8 a bulb on Amazon. IKEA sells its own 60W-equivalent LED light bulbs for just $5, and Home Depot is reportedly running a promotion in May that will discount Philips LED light bulbs to as low as $2.50 per bulb.
Comparing Costs: CFLs vs. LEDs
When most people need to replace their light bulbs, cost is the biggest factor in their decision. But the actual cost includes more than just the upfront price of each bulb you buy; you should also factor in how much each option will cost to operate over the years.
As with most things, it turns out a bit of money spent today can often lead to substantial savings in the long run.
Buying one quality bulb that lasts decades is less expensive in the long run than buying a dozen or more cheaper ones that keep burning out.
And then there’s the cost of the electricity used to light the bulb: Utility prices vary by state and by season, of course, but in 2013 residential electricity customers paid an average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour in the United States. Both CFLs and LEDs use considerably less electricity than traditional bulbs.
Here’s how much each type of bulb would cost to purchase and operate over a 25,000-hour lifespan (about 23 years at three hours per day):
Approximate cost per bulb
$8 or less
No. of bulbs needed for 25,000 hours of use
Total purchase price of bulbs over 23 years
Total cost of electricity used (25,000 hours at $0.12 per kWh)
Total operational cost over 23 years
As you can see, buying longer-lasting, more efficient light bulbs can really pay off over time. Over a 23-year period, it will cost you over $200 (and many trips to the hardware store) to keep one 60-watt lamp lit with incandescent bulbs. By comparison, it would cost just $48 using a handful of CFLs, or $38 using a single LED light bulb — a savings of more than $150 either way.
How Much Could You Save?
Now consider that those savings are from just one bulb. Think about the number of lights in your house — some fixtures, like chandeliers or ceiling fans, probably even use three bulbs or more. If you replaced 20 incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs throughout your home, you could save up to $3,260 over their 23-year lifespan (and that’s assuming utility rates don’t rise).
Still, you don’t even have to make that big of a commitment to realize some significant savings. Switching just the five most-used lights in your home — for instance, the lights in your living room, kitchen, and entryway, which are probably in use closer to four hours a day — could save you around $44 a year on your electric bill.
Other Ways to Compare CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs
Let’s put cost aside for a moment and look at these lighting options based solely on quality and other important factors. Here are some pros and cons of CFLs vs. LEDs:
CFL Light Bulbs
Use less energy than incandescent bulbs
Cost less than LED light bulbs
Produce extremely bright light that spreads evenly
Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues
Cannot be used with a dimmer switch
Take a few moments to heat up and reach full brightness
Contain mercury, a toxic heavy metal
Can be sensitive to cold temperatures
LED Light Bulbs
Light up immediately, like an incandescent bulb
Don’t heat up much at all – they stay cool to the touch even after use
Last up to five times longer than CFLs; can literally last a lifetime
No sensitivity to cold temperatures
Do not contain mercury
Some models can be used with a dimmer switch
Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues
Directional light that may not spread as evenly as other sources
Currently cost more than CFLs
CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs: Who Wins?
After conducting research using my own personal experience and expert sources like Consumer Reports and EnergyStar.gov, I’ve concluded that it’s hard to beat the value offered by modern LEDs. Not only are their prices getting more affordable every day, they also lasts up to decades longer than the competition.
With soft and warm white hues that mimic the glow of traditional incandescent bulbs, the ability to use some models with a dimmer switch, and their instantaneous illumination, LEDs are simply a better option around the house than CFLs.
It’s Your Home, Your Choice
The bottom line: Sometime in the very near future, you probably won’t be able to buy any more incandescent light bulbs, even if you wanted to. If you’re not one to embrace change, that might seem rather depressing. However, you do have a few options. You can either:
Run out to the score and stock up on a few decade’s worth of the cheap, inefficient bulbs you’re used to.
Slowly replace burned-out bulbs with low-cost CFLs, while taking special care to dispose of them properly 10 years down the road.
Gradually replace your old bulbs with LEDs that may last a lifetime.
Personally, I would choose what’s behind door No. 3. Prices for LEDs are lower than they’ve ever been (and continue to get more competitive), and they are the most durable, efficient home lighting option on the market. It’s hard to argue against a product that more than pays for itself in energy savings and might last for the rest of your life.
You don’t have to make a huge commitment now. If you want, you can upgrade to more efficient lighting one room at a time, or as old light bulbs burn out. Or start with installing an LED light bulb in a hard-to-reach spot, like a cathedral ceiling fixture, since you won’t have to replace it for many, many years.
There is no right or wrong way to make the switch. But the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start saving.