LIGHTING : Illuminating Tips to Save on Utility Bills

From Associated Press

Saving money on your utility bills can be as easy as changing a light bulb.

Incandescent lighting illuminates most homes today. Unfortunately, it’s the most expensive, inefficient way to light your home. Only 10% of the electricity is used to produce light, while the rest becomes heat.

Halogen bulbs produce more light at the same wattage and are 1 1/2 times more energy-efficient than incandescent. Providing a white, bright light, halogen is suitable wherever high quality light is needed, such as in a reading lamp or an outdoor security light. The bulbs last about 2,000 hours, twice as long as a typical incandescent.

The hottest news in home lighting today is undoubtedly the glare-free compact fluorescent tube folded into a U-shaped bulb. It can be adapted to most existing light fixtures. Compact fluorescents with a high color rendition index (CRI) illuminate colors accurately, and their warm white tones are similar to incandescent.


Best of all, an 18-watt fluorescent compact gives the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent, using 75% less electricity and lasting for an average of 10,000 hours.

The American Lighting Assn. estimates that if every household in the United States replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, the electricity saved in a year would equal the amount generated by one large power plant, says Barbara McCabe, association representative.

You can buy light fixtures designed specifically for compact fluorescents or adapt incandescent fixtures with an electronic ballast that will provide instant on-off and eliminate flickering and the annoying hum normally associated with fluorescents.

Compact fluorescent bulbs cost from $12 to $24, but they save money in the long run because they use less electricity and last longer, says Keith Voight of the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C. Voight suggests compact fluorescents for high-use areas where they will be on more than two hours a day.

High-intensity discharge (HID) is another energy-efficient lighting option used primarily outdoors in security floodlights or decorative landscaping lights. Mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium HID lights have a golden hue, while metal halide lights are white. They last from 20,000 to 24,000 hours.