According to the energy consumption survey conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the residential electricity consumption of the lighting system accounts for an average of 10%. The percentage may not be as high compared to other end uses such as air conditioning, space and water heating, but the usage of light in itself is universal and an all-year-round activity rather than seasonal. Hence, any energy-saving measure would still account significantly for homeowners in the end. On the other hand, the consumption of electricity for lighting in a commercial establishment tells a different story. It actually expends the second most electricity at 17% as per EIA. That being said, businesses all the more need to look into their lighting system in order to become more economical as well. Here are some valuable tips worth considering to help every household or commercial space to conserve energy and economize on their lighting.
- Open the curtains and shades during the daytime.
What better way to light up a room than to let the natural sunlight shine through it. Not only will this brighten the space but it would also promote good ventilation inside. If you are concerned with privacy, however, you may opt to instead use a light-colored and loosely-weaved curtain to still allow the light to pass through while still providing some level of concealment.
- Install a skylight.
Aside from adding aesthetic value to your home or building, having a skylight installed in the room allows natural lighting to get into your space during the daytime. There are modern skylights available in the market today that are innovatively designed to draw in the light but block the heat to enter thus still maintain cool and conducive room temperature inside.
- Turn off the lights when not in use.
This probably sounds pretty obvious but still often neglected by many. Although the act of switching the light on may incur a certain amount of power surge, it is still very minimal as compared to the amount you can potentially save by simply turning it off when not in use or if you intend to leave the room for more than a minute or so.
- Install motion sensors or timers.
If you constantly forget to switch off your lights, then it is wiser to install a motion-sensor switch or even a timer. The sensor device will automatically turn on the light when it detects movement inside the room and alternately shuts off too when it detects none. The timer, on the other hand, will intentionally power off after a predetermined amount of time had elapsed.
- Install dimmers.
Sometimes you really don’t need a full-blast of light to illuminate a room. A dimmer will help you regulate the amount of light a bulb will emit. The dimmer it is, the lesser electricity is consumed too. Furthermore, dimming also helps to prolong the lifespan of low-voltage lighting such as a halogen downlight, for example.
- Install multiple switches.
Especially when lighting a huge open space, it is more effective to install multiple switches. In that way, you can further control the number of lights switched on alternately or all at the same time, or choose to light a certain area of the room only.
- Use lamps whenever possible.
Lamps consume lesser electricity than the typical overhead light while providing the user a more focused brightness. Hence, it is advisable to use when doing activities that require more concentrated lighting such as when sewing or reading. Furthermore, using lamps also helps to create a warm ambiance to a room.
- Clean the bulbs periodically.
Accumulation of dust and dirt in the light bulb and lampshades can obstruct light from passing through thus lessening its brightness. Regular dusting or wiping is enough to keep it clean and emit light to its fullest.
- Choose the wattage of the bulb according to its purpose.
When choosing a light bulb, you always have to consider the type of room and the kind of atmosphere you wish to create with it. For example, when lighting a bedroom, you want your lights to be more subdued to set a more relaxing ambiance. As opposed to lighting an office space, it is likely necessary to install light bulbs with higher wattage to ensure the room is brightly lit thus suitable for working conditions.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
Not all light bulbs are created equal. Each differs in the amount of electricity consumption. So if you are still using the traditional incandescent light bulbs, you may want to replace it with an energy-efficient type such as the CFLs and the LEDs. Although the initial cost of purchasing these kinds of light bulbs are slightly more expensive, they are nevertheless proven to use up lesser electricity and are expected to last longer.
Different Type of Light Bulbs
To further understand how various bulbs affect your energy efficiency, here are the rundown of the common types and how one differs from the other:
- Incandescent Bulb
The incandescent bulbs are the standard and most common type of light bulb. It comes in a wide array of sizes, wattage, voltages, and glass type. It works by continuously passing electric current to the tungsten filament to heat it up to the point of glowing. Nonetheless, that very flow of heat also causes the filament to burn out eventually. Typically, incandescent light bulbs last an average of 1,000 hours only, the shortest among all kinds. Conventional incandescent bulbs are also notorious to be energy hogs. Hence, in 2007 the US Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, or better known as the “Energy Bill”. This law mandates the implementation of energy-efficient standards among the basic light bulbs. Thus, it requires the use of fewer wattage for a similar lumen output. In that regard, 100-watt incandescent bulbs had been phased out in the market since 2012. Meanwhile, the 75, 60 and 40-watt bulbs followed a year or two thereafter.
- Linear Fluorescent Bulb
Just like the incandescent bulbs, the linear fluorescent light bulbs have long been used in the industry. However, unlike the previous type, the functioning of a fluorescent tube is much more complicated. It technically works by sending the electric current into the cathode in order to excite the mercury vapor and other filled inert gases like argon for instance, through a process called “Inelastic Scattering”. As a result, the mercury atoms then produces an ultraviolet light which causes the phosphorous coating of the lamp to glow. Linear fluorescent lamps are well-recognized because of its cylindrical glass tube structure, though it also comes in a variety of lengths, shapes, diameter, color temperatures, and wattages. Moreover, this bulb particularly requires the presence of ballast to function. Nonetheless, fluorescent tubes are popular for being highly energy-efficient and long-lasting at a very affordable price point.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)
The CFL bulbs are designed to replace the less-efficient incandescent light bulbs. It somewhat resembles the latter but can easily be distinguished because of its coiled or spiral structure. Function-wise, however, it works in exactly the same principle as the linear fluorescent lamps. CFLs today are best known for their energy-efficiency, higher luminosity, an average lifespan of 10,000 hours, low-cost, and easy upgradability. Then again, similar to its predecessor, the mercury content of the lamp renders it rather difficult and more sensitive to dispose of.
- Halogen Lamps
Halogen lamps are basically an enhanced version of the traditional incandescent light bulbs. It still consists of a tungsten filament but this time with an addition of a gas filling called Halogen, thus the name. The halogen cycle helps to extend the lifespan of the bulb by preventing the tungsten to burn out completely and evaporate. In this regard, it is expected to last longer, usually at an average of 2,000 operational hours as compared to a thousand from its prototype incandescent bulb. Aside from endurance, its energy efficiency is remarkably improved as well. Nevertheless, a downside of the halogen bulbs is its tendency to emit a lot of heat. Hence, it runs the risk of becoming a hazard when installed in certain areas.
- Light Emitting Diode (LED)
The LED bulbs are currently hailed as the most energy-efficient and long-lasting light bulb in today’s market. It comes in a wide variety of colors and is made to last an impressive lifespan of up to 10 years of average use. LED, by the way, is specifically a semiconductor device. So as the electricity passes through its negatively charged diode, the constant flow of electrons causes the release of photons. These photons combine with one another to produce light from the diode. Unlike the other types of bulbs, LEDs do not burn out or emit ultraviolet rays nor contain mercury.
|Incandescent||Linear Fluorescent Bulb||CFL||Halogen||LED|
|Light Appearance||Warm, yellow-white||Varied||Varied||White light||Varied|
|Dimmer||Yes||Yes (w/ dimming ballast)||Yes (specific models only)||Yes||Yes (specific models only)|
|Lifespan||1,000 hours||10,000 hours||10,000 hours||2,000 hours||50,000 hours|
|Uses||Lamps, vanity lighting, decorative lighting fixtures||Office or workspaces, commercial establishments, outdoor signages, freezers||Overhead light lamps, indoor home lighting, commercial spaces||Exterior floodlights, hanging pendant lights, accent lighting, recessed light, under cabinets||Overhead lights, lamps, outdoor fixtures, recessed light, decorative lighting|
With the availability of advanced modern technology nowadays, being energy-efficient becomes more feasible and accessible. It is not even necessary to spend a single dime in order to make your home or any facility an electricity-saving structure. What one needs to do is just to simply utilize the brightness from the sun itself, plan the lighting accordingly, and to always stay conscious when to switch on and off the lights. Simple gestures that collectively turn into something significant in the long run.