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Lighting the way to energy savings

Posted Jul 09 2012 2:06pm

Do you use an old furnace or computer? Not likely, because technology has moved on. However, lighting is another thing. For over a hundred years, people have been using the same lighting technology that Edison invented. It is about time we move on.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) established efficiency standards that require light bulbs to use about 25% less energy. As of the beginning of this year (2012), common light bulbs in the US use about 25% to 80% less energy than their previous counterpart. The newer bulbs provide a wide range of choices in color and brightness, and many of them will last much longer than traditional bulbs. According to the US Department of Energy, you could save about $50 per year when you replace 15 traditional incandescent bulbs in your home or business.

Lumens VS Watts

Compare lumens, the brightness of light, when purchasing light bulbs, not the amount of energy they use. Typically, businesses purchase itemsbased on how much of it they get. For example, carpet is bought by the square foot, water by the gallon, and coffee by the pound. Why has light been different? For decades, businesses have been buying light bulbs based on how much energy the bulbs consume (Watts) — not by how much light they give (Lumens). When purchasing your light bulbs, think lumens, not watts!

If you have not already done so, start by replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs use 75 percent less energy than incandescents, last up to ten times longer, and can save about $30 over the life of the bulb. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are also great energy-saving options for incandescent bulb replacement. They last up to 60,000 hours—five times longer than compact fluorescents and 50 to 60 times longer than incandescents. They are, however, expensive.

New Lighting Facts labels clearly provide the lumens of the bulb, estimated operating cost for the year, and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish to white to cool/blue).

Using the information provided by these labels, you can easily figure out what compactflorescent or LED bulbs you will need to replace your conventional incandescent lights. Although the ratio of lumen levels to amount of energy used in each light bulb vary wide, here’s a rough rule of thumb, courtesy of the US Department of Energy:

  • To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

If you are considering LED bulbs to replace your incandescent or compact fluorescent lights, but are deterred by their high cost, it may prove fruitful to wait. The costs of producing LED bulbs are dropping quickly. Philips has built the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, producing the same brightness and quality of light but consuming only 10 watts. This Philips dimmable LED bulb won the Department of Energy’s $10 million L Prize contest and will become standard in government offices, receiving subsidies from utilities to reduce the consumer price. Assuming an increased demand, the price should go down and make it affordable for even smaller businesses in the near future.

If you are in Washington, DC, take advantage of the Commercial Lighting Energy Efficient Replacement (CLEER) T12 Program now —March 12 through September 15, 2012. The DC SEU is offering $20 rebates per fixture to small and medium-sized businesses and institutions in DC who work with CLEER T12 Preferred Contractors to upgrade their old, inefficient T12 fluorescent tube lighting with more efficient High-Performance T8 lighting. Businesses who upgrade to HPT8 lighting by participating in the CLEER T12 Program can avoid dwindling supplies and increased prices for T12 lighting products and are eligible to receive a rebate from the DC SEU to make the switch.

Download the CLEER T12 Program Customer Information Sheet for more information.


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