5:32 PM EST, December 1, 2011
Because lighting is approximately 12 percent of your household energy bill, about as much as running your refrigerator, washer, dryer and dishwasher, combined, energy-efficient light bulbs will save you money on your utility bills. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, aims to lower the amount of energy Americans use by requiring the most common light bulbs to use less energy to produce the same amount of light.
In 2012, incandescent bulbs won't be illegal; they just have to waste less energy. The lighting standards require light bulbs to use 30 per cent less electricity than today's average light bulb.
New options now available, like halogen incandescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes, use a fraction of the amount of electricity compared to the old incandescent bulbs and are available with the same quality of light.
There are exceptions. Certain specialty bulbs are not required to adhere to the increased efficiency law. Traditional incandescent bulbs will still be available for heat lamps, appliance lights, candelabra, decorative tinted and colored lights, three-way lights as well as some other types of specialty bulbs. For a complete list of exceptions, see www.energysavers.gov.
There are three new types of energy-efficient bulbs: Halogen incandescent, compact fluorescents and LEDs. Halogen incandescent use 25 to 30 percent less energy and can last up to three times longer than older versions. CFLs use about 75 per cent less energy than the old bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. LEDs save 75 per cent or more in energy costs and have the potential to last up to 22 years.
Your household can save between $50 and more than $100 a year with energy efficient light bulbs. The EISA cuts costs by ensuring you get the same amount of quality light for less money.
To help you with your transition to energy-efficient light bulbs here are some tips:
Don't just look for watts when buying light bulbs. Read the labels for information on Brightness (in lumens), estimated yearly energy costs; life expectancy, light appearance and energy used.
Do not change every bulb in your house at once. This allows you to test what types of energy-efficient lighting works best for you, while beginning to see savings. Start with the lights that are on for the longest periods each day and use the most power. In most houses that is likely to be in the kitchen, living room and dining room.
Know your light fixtures. There is an energy-efficient bulb for almost every type of lighting. Evaluate the type of bulb that fits best for each fixture. For example, do you need a light bulb that dims?
Don't assume color appearance is always the same. The color appearances you will see with energy-efficient bulbs include warm white, soft white, cool white, bright white and natural or daylight.
Learn more about lighting by visiting the Alliance to Save Energy's lighting topic page, www.ase.org/lighting-info, and the U.S. Department of Energy at www.energysavers.gov.
Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.
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