If you’re like most people, you’re probably constantly searching for ways to help lower your monthly energy bills. Using a programmable thermostat and setting your thermostat to a higher or lower temperature are fairly obvious ways to reduce your energy usage. Similarly, making sure to turn off your electronic devices when they’re not in use and not leaving your phone and computer chargers plugged in constantly can also help. However, you may not be aware that the type of light bulbs you use can have an equally big difference when it comes to how much or how little you pay for electricity each month. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about different types of light bulbs and which are best in terms of energy savings.
Understanding the Different Types of Light Bulbs
Before getting into comparing the energy usage of different types of light bulbs, it’s first necessary to understand what each type of light bulb is and how it works. There are four main types of light bulb used for most residential and commercial applications: incandescent, fluorescent, halogen and LED (light-emitting diode).
Incandescent bulbs are the earliest type of light bulb invented. These bulbs produce light by passing an electrical current across a filament, which results in the filament heating up and glowing as a result of the heat. Halogen light bulbs work in much the same way. In fact, most people consider them to be a specific type of incandescent bulb. The main difference is that in halogen bulbs, the filament is encased in a quartz capsule that is filled with halogen gas. This gas serves the purpose of allowing particles that burn off the filament to essentially be redeposited back onto the filament. As a result, halogen light bulbs tend to have a longer life span than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Fluorescent light bulbs, on the other hand, are filled with gas and have a fluorescent coating on the exterior. This group includes both the traditional fluorescent tube lights and also compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) that can be used in place of incandescent bulbs. These light bulbs work by heating up the gas, which causes free electrons inside the gas to collide with other atoms. This produces UV radiation that is then turned into visible light as it passes through the fluorescent coating.
LED lights are the newest type of bulb and also the only type that doesn’t rely on heat in order to produce light. Instead, these bulbs use a special semiconductor material known as a diode that creates light when energy is applied to it. In essence, the bulbs create light as electrons move from one side of the diode to the other.
How Much Energy Do Traditional Incandescent Bulbs Use?
Figuring out how much energy an incandescent or a halogen bulb uses is as easy as can be. All you have to do is look at the light bulb and see how many watts it is. The energy usage for all types of light bulbs is measured in watts per hour (W/h). For incandescent light bulbs, the wattage directly corresponds to how much energy that bulb will use in an hour, i.e., a 60-watt light bulb will use 60 watts of energy for every hour it is turned on.
Comparing Incandescent, Fluorescent and LED Light Bulbs
All types of light bulbs will list how many watts they use directly on the package. However, it is important to understand that when looking at fluorescent and LED lights, the amount of watts a bulb uses doesn’t directly correspond to how much light it produces. For this reason, you should instead focus on the brightness of the bulb, which is measured in lumens.
For comparison, a 60-watt incandescent bulb will normally produce between 650 and 850 lumens. Therefore, if you want to replace your incandescent bulbs with a comparable LED or CFL bulb, you should look for something that produces a similar amount of light. Luckily, most manufacturers of LED and CFL bulbs will usually show a comparison to incandescent bulbs to make it easier to find the right size.
Why LED Lights Are Almost Always the Best Choice
When they first came out, compact fluorescent bulbs were immediately touted as a much better solution than incandescent bulbs, and it’s not hard to see why. Compared to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, a CFL bulb is able to produce the same amount of light while only using somewhere around 8 to 15 watts of electricity per hour.
This is obviously a huge energy savings, but LED bulbs take things one step further and use even less energy than a CFL. It only takes an LED bulb around 7 to 10 watts per hour to produce the same amount of light as that same 60-watt incandescent bulb. This means that by switching all of the lights in your building from incandescent to LED bulbs, you could reduce the amount of energy you use for lighting by one-sixth or more. As a result, LED bulbs are almost always the best choice in terms of saving energy.
LED bulbs can also help you save money in one other important way. The average incandescent bulb has a life span of around 1,200 hours while the average CFL bulb will last approximately 8,000 hours. However, the average LED bulb should last for at least 25,000 hours, and the most efficient LED bulbs may last as long as 100,000 hours. This means that it may be as many as 10 or even 20 years before you’ll have to replace an LED bulb. To put it another way, you would potentially go through around three CFL bulbs or more than 20 incandescent bulbs in that same time span.
Moreover, the price of LED bulbs has gone down drastically in the past few years, so they are now only slightly more expensive than CFLs and incandescent bulbs. These factors make investing in LED bulbs something everyone should definitely consider since LEDs are both the most energy-efficient type of lighting and the most cost-effective option in the long run.
Other Options That Can Help Lower Your Lighting Costs
If you are looking for even more ways to save money on your lighting costs, you may want to consider having dimmer switches installed. Having sufficient lighting is obviously important, but there are also many situations where you don’t really need all of your lights on at full strength. A dimmer switch offers an easy solution by enabling you to turn up and down the brightness on your lights as needed. By lowering the brightness on your lights, you’ll not only further reduce the amount of energy they use but also further extend the life of your light bulbs.
Alternatively, you may consider installing supplementary lighting in certain areas of the home so that you don’t always have to turn all of your lights on. LED strip lights are one good choice for adding supplementary lighting to your kitchen, bathrooms, hallways or any other areas. Many of these lights also plug directly into a power outlet so you won’t even need professional help to install them.
If you’re looking for more information on your lighting choices or other ways to reduce your electricity bills, the knowledgeable staff at Arc Angel Electric would be happy to help. With locations in Cumming, GA, and Bluffton, SC, we offer a wide range of electrical services for both residential and commercial customers across Georgia and South Carolina. Whatever your needs, our team can handle any task on your existing system or your remodel or new construction project. We also offer a range of other services, including home automation, EV charging, whole-home surge protection and more. To learn more, contact the team at Arc Angel Electric.