Ask the Expert: What you need to know about lighting
We often hear from our customers asking about lighting and LEDs, so I will try to address your question along with the most common ones we receive — from how LEDs save you energy to cost-saving tips regarding lighting, in general.
Let’s start by discussing the difference between light bulbs and which will save you the most:
Incandescent light bulbs are cheap to produce but very inefficient, converting only 5% of the energy into light. As of January 1, 2014, the old familiar tungsten-filament 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the U.S., because they don’t meet federal energy-efficiency standards.
CFL light bulbs, also known as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), use approximately 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting. Efficient CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
LED bulbs or light-emitting diode light bulbs are a good energy-efficient option for lighting, often beating out CFL light bulbs in power efficiency and longevity at a similar price. While LED bulbs can cost a little more upfront, they create savings for you in the long run by using approximately 85 percent less energy and lasting up to 10 times longer than incandescent.
LED bulbs require much less wattage than the CFL or incandescent light bulbs, which is why LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and last longer than the other types of bulbs.
Calculating the savings from LEDs in your home
Wondering if the higher cost of LED bulbs pay off in terms of energy savings each month? That will vary from person to person, especially when you consider that lighting makes up 10 percent of the average residential energy bill.
Here’s one way to look at it: if a homeowner replaced 17 (60W) incandescent bulbs in their home, which are illuminated for about 1,000 hours a year, this could generate savings of approximately $85 in the first year. It would take less than a year to repay the investment of those initial 17 LED bulbs. And with LED bulbs lasting up to 10 times longer than incandescent, it’s going to be a long time before you need to replace them.
So, the bigger the home, and the more incandescent bulbs you’re replacing, the bigger the savings.
Now let’s turn to some other frequently asked questions regarding lighting …
- Leaving lights on vs. turning them off
With regards to the second part of your question, we all know that leaving the lights on in your house or apartment uses energy, which in turn, costs money. So to save money, it’s best to turn off your lights, even for a few minutes. The amount of savings again depends on the type of bulb. A “normal” incandescent bulb costs about six cents per hour, while LEDS or CFLs cost less than two cents.
- If I turn off lights too often, will they wear out?
Yes, you will wear a bulb out sooner. But we are not talking about rapid on-and-off cycling. We are talking about a cycle that lasts a minute, five, or fifteen minutes or more. So even if it turns out that you shorten a bulb’s life, you’ll still save both energy and money if you turn off lights whenever you leave a room, even if you plan to come back a minute later.
More energy efficient lighting tips:
Using motion sensors
If you just can’t remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, you might consider installing a motion sensor plug (for a floor or table lamp) or a motion sensor light switch or ceiling light adapter. These devices work as follows:
- You can turn on the light from the switch, or have it go on when motion or the heat of a human body is detected.
- A Manual-On device is only activated when you flick the switch; a Sensor-On device can also be activated by motion or heat.
- A few minutes after the device stops detecting movement or body heat, the power to the light is shut off.
The sensors in these devices do consume a small amount of power, but far less than you’ll consume if you keep forgetting to turn off lights!
Using programmable timers in the home is a great way to save energy and money. Light timers are devices that can turn off a particular light (or lights) after a particular amount of time has passed or at a particular point in the day or night. According to the Department of Energy, timers are a great way to both automate your lights, save money and conserve energy.
There are two main types of timers to choose from: manual timers, which are generally used for portable lights and lamps, and digital timers, which are generally used for installed indoor and outdoor lighting. Depending on the lights you want to control, different types of timers may be better than others.
How Do Light Timers Save Money?
Essentially, lighting timers cause your chances of accidentally leaving your lights on after a point in time to basically vanish. While accidentally leaving your lights on for a few hours may only cause a few cents worth of an energy bill hike, once you start multiplying the cost by a number of days you leave the lights on, it gets pretty substantial. It gets even more expensive if your bulb of choice is one that uses above-average amounts of energy. Essentially, not only are lighting timers great pieces of technology, but they are also a great investment. While the amount of money saved with a timer varies based on your use of the light and the wattage of the bulb, it is safe to say that most timers can pay for themselves with energy savings in one or two years. So, if you are interested in taking a chunk out of your energy bill, they are certainly worth looking into.
In summary, there are many things that you can do to save money on your lighting needs, from turning off the lights when you leave the room to changing the bulbs that you use. Although the initial investment is higher to purchase LED bulbs, you will benefit from the savings over time.
Is LED Lighting Beneficial for Small Businesses?
The short answer: yes! The U.S. Department of Energy says upgrading just 15 traditional incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs, could save $50 a year. Savings can vary greatly since there are so many energy-efficient products to choose from, but even the smallest upgrades can reap impressive results. Consider this: replacing traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs with energy-saving incandescent bulbs provides 25 percent energy savings over the traditional bulbs. However, LEDs save about 75 to 80 percent over traditional bulbs, according to the DOE.
Things to consider when deciding to make a change for your office lighting:
- Energy usage: Check the efficacy or lumens-to-watts ratio. Lumens are a measure of light output. The higher the lumens per watt, the more efficient the fixture.
- Maintenance costs: Longer lifetime equates to reduced maintenance costs. Traditional incandescent bulbs last about 1,000 hours, which translates to about six months of 40-hour weeks, meaning frequent replacement. By contrast, LED products have a lifetime of 35,000 hours to 50,000 hours. Fluorescent products last 24,000 hours.
- Return on investment: To reap additional savings, select lights compatible with dimmers, motion sensors, photo controls or daylight harvesting. It may add some extra cost to the initial investment, but you yield a much shorter ROI.