To live more eco-friendly lifestyles, many people need only make some relatively minor changes. But even the simplest efforts, when multiplied across millions of households, can add up to profound results.
Inside Energy, a collaborative journalism initiative created to inform the public on energy issues, reports that the average American household uses 911 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month, which can cost around $114. According to researchers at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, Va., fossil fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants consume more than 500 billion liters of fresh water per day in the United States alone. Reducing energy consumption is an effective way to conserve water and other resources. One way to do this is to switch to energy-efficient light sources, which may entail replacing your existing light bulbs with more modern and efficient alternatives.
Incandescent bulbs were once the standard for home use. Available for roughly 135 years, incandescent bulbs are now being phased out because they consume too much energy. Eartheasy.com, a solutions-based website for sustainable living, has found that electric lighting burns up to 25 per cent of the average home-energy budget. The electricity used over the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb costs five to 10 times the original purchase price of the bulb itself. Traditional incandescent bulbs consume significant amounts of energy during heat production, while only a small portion of the energy used is involved in lighting the bulb. Experts have found incandescent bulbs convert less than 5 per cent of the energy they use into visible light, with standard light bulbs averaging about 2.2 per cent.
Unlike incandescent bulbs that have to heat up a filament to high temperatures to produce light, energy-efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs, CFLs and halogen bulbs, work differently. Each has its share of positive and negative attributes. Here are some of the facts about the other bulbs available.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs
- CFLs use 75 per cent less energy than incandescents.
- CFLs last up to 10 times longer than older bulbs.
- CFLs will brighten slowly after being turned on, so it can take a few minutes to reach full illumination.
- Turning CFLs on and off frequently can shorten their life span.
- CFLs contain mercury, so they need to be handled delicately and recycled to keep mercury out of the environment.
Halogen light bulbs
- Halogen lights are not the most energy-efficient choice, but they still consume roughly 25 per cent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
- Halogen bulbs produce instant brightness and can be dimmed.
- Halogen bulbs more accurately show the colours of objects, which can be advantageous in certain settings.
- Halogen bulbs last about a year or two.
Light-emitting diode light bulbs
- LED bulbs are very energy-efficient, with an energy savings of 85 per cent compared to incandescent bulbs.
- When used for three hours per day, LEDs can last from 18 to 46 years.
- LEDs brighten instantly, and many are dimmable.
- Some LEDs cannot cast light in all directions and may not accurately show colours of objects.
- LEDs are some of the most expensive bulbs, although newer LEDs are being produced for less.
Eco-incandescent light bulbs
- Eco-incandescent bulbs employ halogen technology and are 28 per cent more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs, according to Philips.
- Eco-incandescent bulbs are typically less expensive than other incandescent bulb replacements.
While there are many ways for homeowners to reduce their home energy consumption, few are as easy and simple as replacing standard incandescent bulbs with more eco-friendly alternatives.