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Friday, February 3, 2012

Flip the Switch for Greener Lighting

By Diane

I have two incredibly bright children who are great at turning the light switch on, but can never seem to remember how to turn it off! I feel like I am constantly following along behind them flipping switches off so we don't waste energy or end up with a huge electric bill. While it is always a good idea to turn lights off when not in use, the type of bulbs you buy also plays a major part in how much energy you end up paying for!

Here are just a few options you may come across on your next trip to the hardware store.

1. Traditional incandescent light bulbs: These are the traditional bulbs that have been on the market for ages. In 2012, however, they will become a thing of the past since they will no longer meet energy efficiency standards set by the Energy Independence and Security Act. Only 10 percent of the energy being used by these bulbs goes toward actual lighting, the rest is lost as heat. If you are still using these bulbs, consider replacing them with greener options.

2. Halogen (Energy Saving Incandescent): This type of bulb is approximately 25 percent more efficient than the old fashioned incandescent light bulbs we had growing up. They can last up to three times longer as well. They use a small capsule of gas around the bulb's filament to increase efficiency.

3. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs): These are smaller varieties of the long tube shaped lights you often find in schools and office buildings. An Energy Star certified CFL uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts ten times longer than an incandescent bulb that provides the same amount of light. They are slightly more expensive to purchase but will pay for themselves in about nine months with the money you save on your electricity bill. They do contain small amounts of mercury so you need to recycle them when they burn out. There are free CFL recycling programs at many major retailers.

4. LED bulbs (Light Emitting Diode): This is one of the most energy efficient bulbs available right now, although it is a very new technology for home lighting. Energy Star-qualified LEDs use only 20 – 25 percent of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb. They last up to 25 times longer as well.

Energy efficient light bulbs come in all different types of shapes, sizes and colors so you have lots of options when it comes to finding the right product for each room of your house. Remember, while the initial cost of energy efficient bulbs may seem high, they will pay for themselves in the savings you get on your energy bill over the bulb's lifetime.

Have you made the switch to energy efficient light bulbs?

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