It's a Bright Idea

It's a Bright Idea
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As appliances, vehicles and everything else in the world are becoming more efficient, lighting is arguably ahead of the pack.  Lighting constitutes about 13 percent of a typical electricity bill for a residential building and about 21 percent for a typical commercial building.  By using efficient lighting technologies, large reductions in energy consumption can be achieved.

Great strides in lighting technology, made possible by federal loans and private investment, have revolutionized the antiquated incandescent bulb and decades-old fluorescent tube. The flickering yellow, magnetic T12 fluorescents of the past have largely been replaced by white, crisp electronic T8 fluorescents.  And consumers can enjoy two new categories of light bulbs: the compact fluorescent (CFL) and the light emitting diode (LED).

What Does It All Mean?

What’s the difference between a T12 bulb and a T8 bulb?  More importantly, what does it mean for a utility bill?  T12 bulbs are one-and-a-half inch in diameter and T8 bulbs are one inch in diameter, and there are also fundamental differences in phosphor types between the two bulbs, which you can read about here.  Because of the differences between the two bulbs, T8 bulbs will pay themselves off in five to seven years.  T12 bulbs produce 78 lumens per watt of electricity and T8 bulbs produce 90 lumens per watt.  More lumens mean a brighter bulb.  T8 bulbs also provide for a more crisp white light and less of that yellowish tint that we are all used to seeing with incandescent bulbs.  So the good news is that when that burnt out bulb gets replaced by a building operator, the new one will be saving money and will feel brighter and better quality.

What About Better Bulbs At Home?

Are incandescent bulbs that bad? Consider this: 90 percent of the electricity that flows into an incandescent bulb is given off as heat, not light, which means these bulbs are about 10 percent efficient.  So what has arrived on store shelves to save the day?  CFL bulbs have been around for a while already and use about a fourth of the energy that the classic bulb does. 

If you want something even better, go LED.  LED bulbs use about 20 percent to 25 percent of the energy that incandescent bulbs use, slightly less than what CFL bulbs use, and the real bonus comes in their longevity.  LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs!  So the next time you are at the store looking at that LED bulb that is twice as expensive, make sure to multiply the cost of that incandescent bulb by 25 before making a decision.  And don’t forget it uses a fraction of the energy so factor that in, too.  Suddenly your light buying decision just became a lot easier.