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how to lower your lighting costs and keep incandescent lights  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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I hope that this will evolve into a thread rich with discussion and ideas. Here are my tips:

1) A 100 watt bulb puts out more light than two 50 watt bulbs.

2) move the lights closer to where you need it. Swinging arm lamps for the desk and reading lamps for reading are best.

3) Use the reflective bulbs (R20 and R30) to direct light to a particular place rather than the regular lights which are designed to illuminate the whole room.

4) Turn the lights off when nobody is there.

5) I like using led lights for night lights or for being able to see the way for something. Best if these can be set up on some sort of motion sensor and daylight sensor so they don't come on unless somebody is actually there to use them.

6) When wiring a house or designing a room for lighting, have two (or three) switches. One is to provide just enough light to get around and the second is to provide extreme illumination for when you need to clean or find something. A third switch could go to certain outlets that might be your default/custom lighting for the room instead of the other two switches.



More?
 
paul wheaton
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7) install sun tubes, bigger windows and maybe even heliostats to get in more natural sunlight.
 
paul wheaton
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I just answered something out at youtube and thought I would try to convey the same point here.

The question was

ive always heard that you get more life from a fluorescent bulb if you leave it always on; is this true? Do the CFL bulbs behave in this manner? Can we get the claimed longevity if we leave them on?



And my answer was:

I think that is true. Unfortunately, when people hear this, they tend to leave the lights on a lot - including when they are not in the room. So you have an incandescent light that is turned off when it is not needed, and then a CFL which is left on when it is not needed. In this state, the CFL consumes infinitely more power than an incandescent.


 
Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:I hope that this will evolve into a thread rich with discussion and ideas. Here are my tips:

5) I like using LED lights for night lights or for being able to see the way for something. Best if these can be set up on some sort of motion sensor and daylight sensor so they don't come on unless somebody is actually there to use them.



These are great for just being able to make your way around in the dark. I think that the ones with motion sensors actually use as much power when the lamp is off as the same lamp without the sensor when it is on. That is, the power supply for the motion sensor uses as much as the LED does and the whole unit may actually use more power than just having a LED on all the time. My watt meter says both use no power so it is not sensitive enough to tell. I will test this though... it is giving me an itch.
 
paul wheaton
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Jenny Nazak
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My favorite way to minimize the lighting bill is to use only natural light whenever possible. Even at night, it's often possible to get away without using lights. The eyes adjust to a wide range of darkness, almost all the way down to pitch-dark, if we let them.

Nighttime is a great time for sitting and talking on the porch. If there's no one else around, then its a great time for talking on the phone! Catching up with friends/family who live far away. Don't need lights for that! Or chatting by moonlight in the living room, when the moon shines into my place.

Also don't need lights to read emails on computer, books on Kindle, etc.

It's amazing how much I can get away without lights, even at night, if I time my activities in a smart way.
 
Kelly Smith
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dont forget to buy "heavy duty" or "rough service" incandescent bulbs if you can find them.
the filament is much stronger and when used in place of a normal bulb, these will last for a LONG LONG time.

longer life = less costs on bulbs; without the toxin ick of CFLs
 
Kevin EarthSoul
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Jenny Nazak wrote:My favorite way to minimize the lighting bill is to use only natural light whenever possible. Even at night, it's often possible to get away without using lights. The eyes adjust to a wide range of darkness, almost all the way down to pitch-dark, if we let them.

Nighttime is a great time for sitting and talking on the porch. If there's no one else around, then its a great time for talking on the phone! Catching up with friends/family who live far away. Don't need lights for that! Or chatting by moonlight in the living room, when the moon shines into my place.

Also don't need lights to read emails on computer, books on Kindle, etc.

It's amazing how much I can get away without lights, even at night, if I time my activities in a smart way.


If you do use artificial lighting at night, consider using red lights, as they don't cause the pupils to contract, ruining one's night vision. Red colored led lighting for aiding navigation is an example. Plus red LEDs are often lower-powered than other colors (it takes less energy to emit a red light).

Kevin
 
John Polk
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When you repaint a room, go with a lighter color, (Hint: white works best) and don't use flat paint. Use semi-gloss or gloss.
Besides reflecting more light, glossy paints are also much easier to (keep) clean.
(Also, for small spaces, this makes them appear bigger - helps cure cabin fever in the winter.)

If you have a table lamp that sits against, or near a wall, place a mirror behind it - it's like having 2 bulbs burning.
Mirrors are your friends - they can double the effectiveness of each bulb.
Likewise, reflective material around a ceiling lamp will increase the ambient light for any wattage bulb.
Whenever you need to change ceiling bulbs, make certain to clean the insides of the fixture & globe - you will get more light.



 
Jeremiah wales
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Kelly Smith wrote:dont forget to buy "heavy duty" or "rough service" incandescent bulbs if you can find them.
the filament is much stronger and when used in place of a normal bulb, these will last for a LONG LONG time.

longer life = less costs on bulbs; without the toxin ick of CFLs




Yeah. My Brother in Law got a job working for a company selling light bulbs. They had Regular, Heavy Duty, and Rough Service (lifetime Guarantee)
Regular Bulb cost customer .59 each
Heavy Duty Bulb cost customer 6.99 each
Rough Service Bulb cost customer 14.99 each with LIFETIME GUARANTEE just send it back and they will replace for free.

The company put the same light bulb in three different boxes. That was the only difference.

He did the job for 30 days and quit after I called him a Rip Off Artist every time I saw him.

True Story with this company
 
Len Ovens
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Jeremiah wales wrote:
Kelly Smith wrote:dont forget to buy "heavy duty" or "rough service" incandescent bulbs if you can find them.
the filament is much stronger and when used in place of a normal bulb, these will last for a LONG LONG time.

longer life = less costs on bulbs; without the toxin ick of CFLs


Yeah. My Brother in Law got a job working for a company selling light bulbs. They had Regular, Heavy Duty, and Rough Service (lifetime Guarantee)
Regular Bulb cost customer .59 each
Heavy Duty Bulb cost customer 6.99 each
Rough Service Bulb cost customer 14.99 each with LIFETIME GUARANTEE just send it back and they will replace for free.

The company put the same light bulb in three different boxes. That was the only difference.



There are rough service bulbs that have extra filament supports. These supports can be seen if the bulb is clear. I do not know if the filament it self is thicker though.

Thicker, longer lasting filaments, are likely to also produce less light for the power used at any one voltage.

A string of 10 car "park" lamps in series (assuming 120 volts) may last well and still be bright.
 
Len Ovens
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Len Ovens wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:I hope that this will evolve into a thread rich with discussion and ideas. Here are my tips:

5) I like using LED lights for night lights or for being able to see the way for something. Best if these can be set up on some sort of motion sensor and daylight sensor so they don't come on unless somebody is actually there to use them.



These are great for just being able to make your way around in the dark. I think that the ones with motion sensors actually use as much power when the lamp is off as the same lamp without the sensor when it is on. That is, the power supply for the motion sensor uses as much as the LED does and the whole unit may actually use more power than just having a LED on all the time. My watt meter says both use no power so it is not sensitive enough to tell. I will test this though... it is giving me an itch.


Well, I finally did some testing... Up for testing. See the picture below.

1) This is an on all the time LED lamp. I thought this one would win.
2) This is a replacement for the old 7Watt night lights, it has three LEDs and is (to my eyes) the brightest. As the others only have one LED each I thought this would be the looser.
3) This an LED night light with light sensitivity, I thought this one would still draw current while turned off.... the point of this test.
nitelight.JPG
[Thumbnail for nitelight.JPG]
 
Len Ovens
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And the winner is.... well hang on, let me go through how I tested.

I had bought an extension cord to use as a replacement power cord with the thought I was going to wack the end off anyway. Instead of that (as you can see in the bottom picture above) I only cut one side. I left a gap in this line to prevent shorting and bared the wire. The meter is an old AVOMeter handed down to me from my father. These were top of the line meters and do read true RMS.

First, to my surprise, The light gathering circuitry on the dark activated lamp did not draw any measurable current while turned off. The needle did not even wiggle. However, in the on state it did draw more than all the others. I think part of this was the switching circuitry, but I don't know.

The second surprise was the three LED replacement for the old 7 watt bulbs. This one had lower current draw than any of the others.... by a lot. On top of that it was the brightest. This was slightly offset by being very directional.

The third surprise is the flame shaped lens LED lamp. This was the dimmest, and i was using two of these for our hallway... bad choice. While this one did draw less than the darksense lamp, the switching would have more than made up for it. This was the looser all around. Poor lighting, with big power use.

Here are the numbers:

The Winner over all in any practical way was the three LED bulb. It draws a whole 3ma.

The looser with the flame lens draws 18ma all the time and needs two in practice for enough light.

In the middle is the dark sensing lamp. While on it draws 24ma (the highest). This would be a bad lamp to use in a hallway that was pretty dark even in the daytime. But in a well day-lit space, It would only be on for half that time on average (less in summer, more in winter) and so does better than most "on all the time" LED night lights out there with the addition of giving much better lighting... but the winner still beats it even if it is only on for 6 hours because other lamps keep it turned off in the evening and early morning. The lighting is all around... I am not sure what they were thinking here as there is a lens that shapes the light and it could have sent most of the light away from the wall instead of half the light at the wall... needs white wall or foil patch behind it.

So there you are. Put your reading glasses on while buying these so you can read the tiny print that tells you what the lamp draws. I have had all of these for a while and did not have the packaging to compare.
 
Sherri Lynn
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It seems to me that it would be more energy efficient to use incandescent bulbs in the winter time when heat is not a problem. It may depend on the climate where you live. There are definite reasons why we still need incandescent bulbs, such as keeping the pump from freezing or warming up the chicken coop. Most of these reasons involve also using the heat in a positive way. Summer time may prove them to be counteractive to your electricity economy.
 
Karen Walk
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Sherri Lynn - the power from all lights eventually degrades into heat. Incandescent lamps use more power and convert less of the power into light before it degrades into heat. You are right that in the winter, the extra heat from an incandescent bulb is not a problem, however, it is rarely advantageous to use lights for heat in a home because electricity is expensive energy.

In my opinion, the best way to save lighting energy is to use dimmer switches. The other advantage is that in the evenings, you can turn lights down low and create a mellow, relaxed environment - making it easier to transition to darkness and sleep. Dimmers work well with incandescent bulbs and some LEDs. Test them on your LED before outfitting your whole house - I have found that some LEDs have a more blue color when dimmed very low. If you like tech stuff, you can get remote-control dimming for plug-in lights. Check out Insteon.

Paul - the reason people are told to leave CFLs on is that turning them on and off quickly wears out the ballast (the driver for the fluorescence). If fluorescent lights are controlled by motion sensors, the motion sensors are usually programmed to keep the light on for a minimum amount of time (I think around 15 minutes) in order to minimize damage to the ballast. Due to their longer life, higher efficiency, and arguably lower toxicity, I would choose LEDs over CFLs, but for a conscientious user incandescent lights can still be a good choice.
 
Len Ovens
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Sherri Lynn wrote:It seems to me that it would be more energy efficient to use incandescent bulbs in the winter time when heat is not a problem. It may depend on the climate where you live. There are definite reasons why we still need incandescent bulbs, such as keeping the pump from freezing or warming up the chicken coop. Most of these reasons involve also using the heat in a positive way. Summer time may prove them to be counteractive to your electricity economy.


So long as a person is on the grid anyway incandescent bulbs have good use. In the case of using a lamp to heat a small area, I would suggest a thermostat. The thermostats for baseboard heaters are cheap (often available for free) and can be put in the middle of an extension cord. Just buy a plastic electrical box to mount it in.
 
Karen Walk
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Len Ovens wrote:So long as a person is on the grid anyway incandescent bulbs have good use.


Yes & No. If the person's primary heat source is electric resistance baseboards, then heating with an incandescent lamp is break-even. If a person's primary heat source is wood harvested off their land, then heating with an incandescent lamp would be counter-productive. If a person's primary heat source is a geothermal heat pump, then using the incandescent lamp is also counter-productive. If a person's primary heat source is a natural gas boiler and the electricity pulled from the grid is generated by a coal power plant, then heating with an incandescent lamp is counter-productive.

For areas where providing other types of heat is difficult, dangerous, or cost-prohibitive, using an incandescent bulb with a timer or thermostat can be a good choice. A hen-house is a perfect example. The hens need the heat, and egg production benefits from the extra light.

Like most things in permaculture, it depends on the situation.
 
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