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Milly CarterAdministrative Associate, West Central RegionUniversity of Missouri Extension Phone: 816-252-7717Email: email@example.com
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Marsha Alexander, 816-482-5850
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Switching to more efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your home energy costs, notes a University of Missouri Extension housing and environmental design specialist.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 11 percent of the average household’s energy costs are spent on lighting. And if you’re using conventional incandescent light bulbs, about 90 percent of that energy is producing heat rather than light.
“Incandescent lights are currently the most energy-wasting bulbs on the market,” says Marsha Alexander.
Generally, the most energy-efficient types of home lighting are fluorescent lamps and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). With so many different types of light bulbs on the market, it can be hard to figure out which ones are right for your needs.
However, new packaging labels can help you select the best products for specific uses, Alexander said.
“By reviewing the label information the consumer can determine the estimated yearly energy costs, wattage usage, brightness and light appearance,” she said. Also look for the Energy Star label on the packaging. Products with the Energy Star label must meet specific energy efficiency requirements.
“Different rooms need different types of lighting. You should match the intended function of the space with the light source,” she said.
If brightness is important, compare the lumens of two or more products. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.
“If the goal is to reduce energy costs, choose bulbs with the lowest watts. The more lumens produced by a bulb per watt, the more efficient the light bulb is and the more energy is saved,” Alexander said. A typical compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) consumes about a quarter of the energy of an equivalent incandescent bulb. LEDs are even more stingy with energy, but cost considerably more.
The color of the light is measured on a temperature scale in units called kelvins. For light bulbs, the scale typically ranges from 1,500 to 9,000 kelvins. Interestingly, the higher the Kelvin temperature, the “cooler” or more blue the light will appear. For a warmer light, choose a bulb with a lower Kelvin temperature.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with the more energy-efficient lamps can be expensive, though the price of CFLs has dropped considerably in the past couple years. That means the savings on your utility bills should quickly make up for the additional cost.
Rather than replace all your bulbs at once, Alexander suggests that you identify the four or five most-used lamps in your home. Replace them with Energy Star-qualified bulbs. As your budget allows, replace more bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives.
“Consider your lighting needs first and plan accordingly,” Alexander said.
For more information from MU Extension on household energy savings, see http://missourifamilies.org/housing/energy/ or contact your local MU Extension center.
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