Lighting the Way to Energy Savings
In a typical American household, 25% of electricity consumption is attributed to lighting. Thus, the great opportunity to focus on improving that, which illuminates us.
CFL, the smart switch. When compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) were introduced in the 90’s, it revolutionized the lighting industry by saving as much as 66%*(Energy Star rated CFLs), with just changing the bulb. As it’s name states, these bulbs are the smaller, condensed versions of the long, tubular, white fluorescent bulbs. They were made to match the size, and replace the incandescent bulb where the ordinary fluorescent bulb cannot. Task lighting, torchiers and accent lighting are typical applications where the incandescent bulb rules, but not for long. As compared to the incandescent bulb, CFLs consume less electricity at the same brightness level. It also lasts as much as 10X longer, thus requiring no bulb change for as long as 7 years. It also operates at lower temperatures, which reduces the heat in your home and reduces air pollution. Clearly, switching to CFL is the smart choice for you and the environment.
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Peripherals are important, too! Apart from the bulb, a typical lighting fixture has other components that also contribute to the brightness of the lamp. These are:
1.Ballast. Incandescent bulbs do not use ballasts because it illuminates by using the heat directly generated by electricity. But for fluorescent bulbs, however (standard and compact), ballasts ignite a gaseous material inside the tube, which glows to give-off the light. The old way of igniting the gas is with magnetic ballast, which uses more electricity, has a tendency to flicker and have a humming sound as it ages. Electronic ballasts however requires less electricity, flicker-free and extends the life of the lamp longer through more stable operation. Electronic ballasts cost more than the magnetic kind, but save electricity and operation costs in the long-term.
2.Reflector. The hat around the bulb in the typical lighting fixture is not a mere aesthetic component of the lamp. Its purpose is to reflect the light given off by the bulb for added brightness. Modern lamp designers have improved the design of reflectors by using modern metal alloys, improved groove design and spread. When purchasing a lighting fixture, always check for lamps with innovative reflector designs.
3.Switch. The simplest way to save electricity is to turn off the light when not in use. In reality, though, remembering to do this is the challenge. This means there are technologies available for the occasional Forgetful Jones.
* Locate switches where people will be encouraged to use it. Door entry and exits, at each end of a hallway or at the top and bottom of a stairway are examples of where multiple switches can be installed to increase the chances of turning off the light immediately after use.
1. Install a timer to your light switch to control when the light turns off (after 8 hours of sleep).
Advanced times can be programmed to turn on and off, depending on the time and day. Aside from saving electricity, having a timer is also a way of securing the home. Even while one is away, having the lights on will give an impression that the house is occupied.
2. Sensors are particular devices that control light operation depending on a specific condition.
Photosensors are used when lights need to turn on as soon as darkness falls, or turn off when the sun is up. Motion detectors sense movement, where lighting is occasionally needed (passing through the garden or entry/exit of guests). Occupancy sensors, on the other hand, turns the lights on when it senses movement in a room, and turns it off when there is no movement detected. This type is often used in meeting rooms where employees usually forget to close the lights after a meeting.
3. Dimmers adjust the brightness of light in a room. At lower settings, lamps use less electricity, than at full illumination. So, if merely ambient or mood lighting is needed in a room, set the dimmer to low and enjoy the effect, without burning the greens.
Design-in savings. If one has the opportunity, alter the home to save even more, the do so. Ask the designer to partner with a licensed electrical engineer to incorporate all possible design improvements that will suit your renovation plans and budget and bring long-term savings, like the following:
1. Encourage natural light to come in by using sky roofs, large windows and light colored wall treatments;
2. Install the lighting fixture that is intended for its purpose: Use task lighting to illuminate a specific table or work area instead of illuminating the entire room;
3. Use mirrors to reflect low-wattage lighting to enlighten corridors and passageways. Having all the changes listed above will entail a substantial amount of initial cost. But the key is to look at the long-term benefits, which actually deliver the savings, bottom line. And anyone who saves electricity and does well for the environment is, most definitely, an enlightened saver!