The top two users of energy in our homes are heating and cooling equipment. Did you know that the next biggest user of energy in our homes is lighting? I know, not a huge surprise, but those lights use more energy than you think.
Take my master bathroom for example. It has the typical suburban design of his and her vanities with the multi-light wall fixtures above the mirrors. Hers had six 40 watt bulbs and mine had four 40 watt bulbs. That’s 400 watts of light! And my wife wondered why I got mad when she left the lights on in the bathroom. Not only are they bright, but they put off a lot of heat. Ever touch an incandescent bulb after it’s been on for a while? In fact, in Europe the 100 watt bulb has been banned. In order for manufacturers to get around the regulation, they sell the bulb as a “heat source”.
Think about all the light bulbs all over your house. A 100 watt bulb on the front porch. A 60 watt bulb in every lamp or hall light. Got a chandelier? How many bulbs are in that thing? And the latest craze, canned lights with 65 watt bulbs in them. I can’t tell you how many upgraded kitchens I have been in while doing energy audits in Atlanta that have eight or more canned lights in them. Eight 65 watt bulbs is 520 watts. If you like to cook every night or like to hang out near the kitchen, that’s a lot of energy being used.
Now let’s look at the CFL equivalent of all those incandescent bulbs according to the DOE:
- 100 watt incandescent = 25 watt CFL
- 75 watt incandescent = 20 watt CFL
- 60 watt incandescent = 15 watt CFL
- 40 watt incandescent = 11 watt CFL
- 20 watt incandescent = 3 watt CFL
So in the master bathroom we’ve gone from 400 watts to 110 watts or basically 75% less energy usage and no Easy Bake Oven effect. If you went around your house and counted the number of bulbs and their wattages and then converted them on paper to their CFL equivalents, you would be surprised in the difference of total wattage. A 75% reduction in energy used in all your lights adds up to some significant savings.
Now I’m not saying you need to go out and change every bulb in the house to a CFL. If you never use the light that the old bulb is in, there is no need to change it until it burns out. Now that the price of CFL’s has dropped to the price of a regular bulb, the old excuse “their too expensive” doesn’t come into play either. Not to mention that CFL bulbs last 10 times longer. Next stop will be LED lighting. They are coming down in cost, use even less energy, create almost no heat, and can last 20 years or longer.
So save yourself some money and give you’re A/C a break this summer and have the bright idea to pick up some CFL bulbs for those lights you use the most. And next time you walk out of the room, remember what your parents said and “TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!” And always remember, “Don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper.”