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Increasing Lighting Efficiency

Placement and choice of light fixtures affect how well we see, work, and play. It also affects our home safety and comfort. Home lighting affects energy costs, representing 5 to 10 percent of an average consumer's energy bill. Making simple changes to home lighting use can reduce energy costs and increase lighting efficiency. Here are a few tips to make home lighting more efficient.

Choosing Light Bulbs

When choosing a light bulb, a consumer should consider where the bulb will be used, light quality needed, the light output (lumens) from the bulb, and the total operating costs. Bulbs should be compared based on lumen instead of wattage, which measures the amount of energy used. Bulbs using the same number of watts may have varying levels of light output. The following compares the most common types of light bulbs used in the home:

Incandescent light bulbs. These are the most popular type of bulb used in home lighting. They are the least expensive to buy, but are the most expensive to use over the long term. Generally, incandescent bulbs last about 1,000 hours and, on average, must be replaced every six months.

Halogen lights. These use less wattage than incandescent bulbs, give off the same amount of light, and last about 4,000 hours. Halogen lamps are popular because of their low costs. However, a halogen light's high operating temperatures can be a fire hazard.

Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs). These combine the energy efficiency qualities of florescent lights and convenience of incandescent bulbs. CFLs provide quality light, are available in various shapes, and can be used in place of incandescent bulbs. While CFLs are more expensive to purchase than incandescent bulbs, it uses one-third of the energy and can last up to seven years.

For more information on energy efficient lighting, check these Web sites:

Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Energy Ideas Clearinghouse.

Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home.

Home Energy.

Lighting for the Home.

Residential Energy Conservation.

Content updated on 4/7/2006

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