Savings Tips: Bright Ideas for Lite, Light Bills

Posted by: Javier | 02/12/2013 at 08:58 AM

Savings Tips: Bright Ideas for Lite, Light Bills

If you’ve shopped for light bulbs lately, you may have noticed that you have quite a selection. Traditional incandescent, light-emitting diodes (commonly known as LEDs) and compact fluorescents are all sharing the spotlight on the hardware store aisles.

These choices may seem overwhelming and confusing, but they don’t have to be. New labels are now in place that can help shoppers buy bulbs that suit their needs and save them money on their electric bills. These new labels contain important facts about a bulb’s lumens, wattage, estimated usage cost per year and the
color of light it produces.

  • “Lumens” describes the brightness of a light bulb.
  • “Watts” describes how much electricity it consumes.
  • The wattage and estimated usage are used to determine the cost of use per year.

Why the change? A new Federal law, the Energy Independence and Security Act, requires most light bulbs to use less electricity and still produce the same amount of light that consumers are accustomed to. These new lighting standards, which are being phased in from 2012 to 2014, do not ban incandescent or any specific bulb type, but they do require all bulbs to be more energy efficient.

Moving forward, light bulbs must still provide the same amount of light, or lumens, as older bulbs, they just have to do it by using fewer watts, or energy. One popular bulb that doesn’t meet this new requirement is the traditional 100-watt incandescent lightbulb, which produces about 1,600 lumens. Because incandescent bulbs can lose up to 90 percent of their energy as heat, they are slowly being phased out. After stores sell out of 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs, they likely won’t be restocked. Similar standards will phase out traditional 75-watt incandescent bulbs as of 2013 and traditional 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs as of 2014.

In their place, consumers will find choices that use 72 watts or less to provide a comparable amount of light. Will it work? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that replacing 15 traditional incandescent bulbs in a home with energy-efficient alternatives could save consumers about $50 a year. Although energy-efficient bulbs are typically more expensive, the energy savings over the lifetime of the bulb often make up for the initial cost. And the newer bulbs typically last significantly longer, which means more savings, according to the DOE.


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