If you purchase and use energy efficient light bulbs, over the course of a year your savings will certainly add up – even though lighting constitutes only 6% of your total monthly energy costs. But remember, the best energy-saving tactic is to simply switch lights off when not in use.
Here’s a guide to your lighting choices:
Incandescent bulbs: are the standard, familiar bulbs people have used for years; considered energy inefficient because they produce more heat than light. And though you may find incandescent bulbs with efficient sounding names like ‘long life’ or ‘extended life,‘ they use the same amount of energy as an equivalent wattage regular bulb (longer life, notwithstanding). Some incandescents have been made more efficient by reducing the wattage (though there is a slightly reduced light output). Look for these energy saving replacement bulbs, which are commonly available: a 34-W for a 40-W; a 52-W for a 60-W; and a 90-W for a 100-W.
Compact fluorescents: You’re probably familiar with the standard, long tube fluorescent ceiling lighting used in homes, stores and offices. The same technology has been improved for energy efficiency and light quality, and packaged in a compact shape for use in lamps and other lighting fixtures. There are a variety of wattages, shapes, and styles of compact fluorescents for different uses. Although they are 75% more efficient and last 10 times longer than incandescents, because of their initial cost, they should only replace bulbs used for a minimum of 3 hours per day. And as always, watch for the ENERGY STAR® symbol to ensure you’re purchasing the most energy-efficient lighting on the market.
Halogens: When compared to incandescent, halogens last 2-4 times longer and produce a whiter light that uses about 40% less energy. However, they cost a slightly higher purchase price. They are a good replacement for outdoor flood and spot lights. For example, a 45-W PAR (parabolic aluminum reflector) halogen spot light replaces a 75-W PAR incandescent spot light. There is another type of halogen bulb, often called a low voltage or quartz, which requires a specifically designed halogen fixture. This bulb provides a bright, white, focused light suitable for highlighting art work or use as a desk lamp.