Dear ol' Dad was not being a Grinch when he told you to turn off the lights — he was teaching you to save energy and money.
Lights are responsible for nearly 15 percent of the average home’s electric bill. And yet, lighting is one of the easiest places to start saving energy and money. There are some savings that are worth more than dollars and cents — changing the world can be as simple as changing a light!
Confused by which LED light bulb to buy? With a lot more options on store shelves, bringing home the right bulb can be an annoying process of trial and error. This new app can make it easier.
What are your choices?
Bulbs come in a plethora of shapes and sizes to fit all your home’s needs. Visit ENERGY STAR to find the right fit for your fixtures.
Need to replace a light fixture? Consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR-qualified fixture. Also available in many styles, they will distribute light more efficiently and evenly than standard fixtures and offer energy-saving features such as dimming. All ENERGY-STAR light fixtures and bulbs must meet strict guidelines, lasting 6,000 to 10,000 hours. If every home in the U.S. replaced their five most frequently used light fixtures and/or bulbs with ENERGY STAR ones, we would save close to $9 billion each year in energy costs alone.
- Incandescent bulbs: The electricity used during the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb costs 5 to 10 times the original price of the bulb. That's money being thrown away. Ditch traditional incandescent bulbs. Instead, try these more energy-efficient bulbs — they'll cost more initially, but be cheaper in the long run.
- Energy-saving (halogen) incandescents: This type of bulb is about 25 percent more efficient and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Halogens are most similar to traditional incandescents.
- Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): CFLs are basically miniature versions of full-sized fluorescents. CFLs use 75 percent less energy and cast last 7 to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. CFLs come in many shapes and sizes now. So, you’re not stuck with the iconic swirly shape unless you want to be. Find out more on EPA's CFL website.
Make note, CFLs must be recycled at the end of their long lives due to their mercury content. For more information on where to recycle CFL bulbs, visit the EPA website to find a list of retailers that accept the used bulbs. Your county household hazardous waste program may also collect the. Find your county’s HHW program.
- Light-emitting diodes (LEDs): LEDs cut energy use by more than 80 percent. The bulbs can last much longer than CFLs, with an average life of about 22 years.
Lighting’s new generation: LEDs
The LED is today’s most energy-efficient and cost-saving light technology. Key differences between LEDs and other lighting sources:
- LEDs are very efficient, and emit very little heat. Older technologies release far more energy as heat rather than light; incandescent bulbs (90% heat/10% light) and CFLs (80%/20%) are far less energy efficient.
- LED bulbs brighten up a room right away, unlike CFLs (which take time to warm up).
- LED bulbs are cheaper to operate but pricey upfront. However, with technology continually getting better, costs are dropping rapidly. Prices for LED bulbs have already declined by almost one-third.
- Unlike typical light bulbs, LEDs do not actually burn out. Instead, their light gets gradually dimmer. Most LEDs are expected to have a useful life (number of hours the LED is emitting 70 percent of its initial output) of 30,000 to 50,000 hours. In comparison, a good incandescent lasts about 1,000 hours and CFLs usually last 8,000 to 10,000 hours. Learn more about LED lifespan.
- LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, making them more durable and more break-resistant.
Some LED lightbulbs can even be used with dimmers. Packaging or enclosed instructions will indicate if the product is dimmable and which dimmer products are compatible. As the LED industry continues to expand, dimmers are expected to become increasingly more common.
Other tips for reducing your lighting bill
- Replace incandescent bulbs. Swap all, or most frequently used, light fixtures with more efficient bulb models. For the greatest savings, replace your old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY-STAR bulbs.
- Install occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors detect indoor activity within a certain area. They turn on lights automatically when someone enters a room and save energy by turning lights off soon after the last occupant has left the room.
- Use dimmers if possible. Not only are they good for setting a mood but, providing a light output range can also decrease energy output and costs associated with lighting. When you dim lights, it reduces their wattage and output, which ultimately saves energy.
- Run ventilation fans. High humidity can shorten the life of CFLs. Avoid moisture-caused problems by running ventilation fans during showers and baths and for a short time afterwards.
- Put lights on a schedule. Install timers that automatically turn lights on and off according to your needs.
- Select light-colored or opaque lamp shades. These shades allow for more light to beam from one fixture. This avoids having multiple lights on.
- Place lamps in corners to reflect light from two walls. Using two walls to reflect light will brighten up the room and save energy by reducing the need for multiple lights being turned on.
- Install motion detectors. Outdoor porch lights are some of the most frequently used light fixtures in a home. Motion detectors prevent lights from being on all night but provide safety by sensing movement.
- Consider solar power. Look for outdoor lighting with photo cells or photo sensors that allow lights to come on only when the sun is down. This can help save energy because you don’t have to remember to turn your lights off. All ENERGY STAR-qualified outdoor fixtures come with these sensors, but photo cells can be purchased for other types of outdoor lighting.
Flashing and colorful bulbs are a staple of the holiday season. It’s easy to catch a severe case of holiday fever or find yourself in a high-spirited competition with your neighbor. We get caught up in the joyful atmosphere and don’t realize how much energy those small blinking strands can use up. Come January, our electric bills can bring an abrupt crash to our holiday cheer.
Light up your winter celebrations without lighting up your utility bills by following these tips.
- Deck the halls with LEDs. LED Christmas lights can be found for $10 a strand but overall, are much more cost efficient because they use 90 percent less electricity than regular Christmas lights. That means one strand can last 10 times longer than traditional incandescent strands. Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket, making installing easier.
- Use fiber optics. Trees and décor pre-garnished with fiber optic lighting are the ultimate in energy efficiency. In most cases, one single bulb is located at the base of the unit.
- Limit time lights are on. Lights may set the mood for holiday season, they do not need to be on all night. Wait until dark to turn them on, both inside and outside. If possible, set a timer to ensure lights do not stay on through the night.
- Turn off room lights when tree is lit. Set the holiday mood and save energy.
- Decorate with candles or luminaries. Keep the holiday cheer without adding energy.