Light Bulbs, Energy Efficiency, and Cost

by Dan Derkum


Beginning October 2012, new energy efficiency standards began for America’s beloved light bulbs. The Energy Independence and Security Act became law in December 2007. This law requires that all light bulbs manufactured, sold, and distributed in the United States can no longer be incandescent (the exception being the 40-watt bulbs used in your oven and refrigerator - for now!).


The options will be Compact Florescent Light (CFL), Halogen, and Light Emitting Diode (LED) for all lighting needs. Compared to incandescent bulbs, Halogen lighting is 25% more efficient, CFL lighting is 75% more efficient, and LED lighting is 80% more efficient. Both the Halogen and CFL bulbs lasts about 10 times longer and are more expensive than incandescent bulbs (about $3 for a 50-watt Halogen bulb and about $5 for a 60-watt CFL). Both will pay for themselves in about 7 to 9 months.


The LED, however; costs the most for a single bulb but will last about 25% longer than incandescent bulbs (about $25 for a 60-watt LED bulb). It will pay for itself in about 7 months. Many LED lights offer 50,000 hours or more of use compared to 2,000 hours for a 50-watt halogen, and 750 to 1,000 hours for a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Consider the fact that an LED with 50,000 hours of life, used an average of 4 hours per day, will last 12,500 days or more than 34 years! Compare this to 1.4 years for a halogen bulb and about 6 months for a 60-watt incandescent bulb . . . what a savings! With this new law comes a few new terms:


With this new law comes a few new terms:


1. Lumens. What's a lumen? A lumen measures the amount of light a bulb produces and the amount of power consumed to produce it (usually measured in watts). The standard 100-watt bulb produces about 1,600 lumens. Therefore, 16 lumens equal about 1 equivalent watts of light. As an example, a 900 lumen bulb produces about the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.


2. Efficacy. Efficacy refers to the amount of light produced by a light bulb or other light source, usually measured in lumens.


3. °K or Color Temperature. Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light. Color temperature is conventionally stated in the unit of absolute temperature, the Kelvin, having the unit symbol K. Color temperatures over 5000°K are called cool colors (blueish white), while lower color temperatures (2700-3000°K) are called warm colors (yellowish white).

With the new Halogen, CFL, and LED lights also come new ambient forms of lighting. The ambient light is the color or temperature of the light. Warm, Cool, and Daylight are the terms used to describe the color of the light. Warm lighting represents a more golden color (temperature range of 2700°K to 3000°K); which is similar to the incandescent bulb. Cool lighting illustrates the traditional fluorescent white and halogen white light (temperature range of 3000°K to 4300°K). Daylight lighting (temperature range of 4500°K to 6500°K) resembles the light one would experience in a room with windows.


LED Patch LightingWarm and White light is better for task lighting (cooking, cleaning, make-up, shaving, arts & crafts, and the like). Daylight lighting is best for reading, homework, computer use, and so forth. Personally, I believe Daylight is the best all around lighting for most living spaces. It's very easy on the eyes and produces less glare. For kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, home offices, and play rooms, a 3000°K to 3500°K LED light on a dimmer is hard to beat... its beautiful and very pleasing to the senses.


What's the best choice in lighting?


Without question, there is simply no better choice for home lighting than recess LED lighting on a dimmer. Because of their trims and higher efficacy design, the lumens are magnified; hence, more light for less money. Recess LED Lights have 3000°K to 4000°K bright white light that is ideal for task lighting. At 600 Lumens, this is equivalent to a 65 Watt light bulb using only 13.8 Watts!


These LED's, according to Halo®, "are designed and manufactured to last almost 23 years or 50,000 hours; saving over $10,900 (or almost $1,100 per year) in operating and energy costs (based on 6 hours average use per day)". Although the H7 600 Series (for example) cost about $200 each to purchase and install, they have an operating and energy savings payback of only 4.8 - 4.7 months! This means the cost to install is essentially free in less than 5 months. I do not believe there is a better recess light choice than the Halo® LED! I don't know of anything else offering these huge savings so quickly.


If you have any questions on Light Bulbs, Energy Efficiency, and Cost, please call me, Dan Derkum, at (949) 380-0177 or e-mail me by filling out our quick contact form

About the Author
Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD's Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor.

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