Sunday, 10 June 2012

Energy efficient light bulbs

We need lighting for convenience and safety, but it’s responsible

for about 16% of a home’s electricity consumption

There are

many ways to conserve energy use, such as installing timers and

motion detectors where appropriate, using low-energy bulbs or

retrofitting older fixtures. Some of the best options are discussed

below. See for links to more information on


Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)

Changing the light bulbs from the conventional incandescent kind

(that produce heat) to low-energy, CFL bulbs is one of the easiest

steps to take both in a condo/apartment, and in common and

public areas. CFL bulbs consume approximately ¼ of the energy,

and last 10 times longer. It’s a low-cost investment that quickly

reduces electricity consumption. They’re widely available and now
cost little more than traditional bulbs.

CFLs are best installed in fixtures that are used frequently and

left on for at least 15 minutes at a time (switching CFLs on and

off frequently can shorten their lifespan), so buildings’ common

areas, including outdoor patios and spaces, garbage rooms,

lounges and foyers – as well as in individual apartments and

condos – are all ideal locations for CFLs. Note that only certain

CFLs can be used in dimmable fixtures. Some people remain

sensitive to the bluer light given off by CFL bulbs, even though

their tone has improved greatly since they were first introduced.

Low wattage traditional bulbs (e.g., 40 watts) may be a practical


CFLs do contain trace amounts of mercury — about 1/5 of what

you would find in an average watch battery — so used bulbs

should be recycled appropriately. See for a list of

Lower Mainland retailers who take them back for recycling, and

for more information. Do note that, in many jurisdictions, more

mercury would be released by burning the coal needed to light an

ordinary incandescent bulb.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

An alternative to CFLs are LEDs, which consume even less

energy. LEDs are found everywhere from computers, to ambient

street lights, to flashlights. Screw-in LED bulbs that can replace

conventional light bulbs do exist, but are still difficult to find in

the Metro Vancouver region, and can be expensive. They can be

purchased online from a number of manufacturers.

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights are the most common lights in schools and

in office buildings, and can be found in homes too. Newer ‘T8’

fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts are now the norm,

replacing the older T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts.

Pulse-start metal halide lights

Despite their sci-fi name, pulse-start metal halides are about

three times as efficient as incandescent bulbs. They offer high

light output per unit of energy, and a long lamp life. They’re ideal

for permanently lit areas such as underground parking areas, or

for lights that go on at night outside a building. More information

can be found at

High-pressure sodium lights

Primarily used for outdoor and garage lighting, high-pressure

sodium lights are an effective energy-saving alternative to

incandescent bulbs.

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