NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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A New Light on the Subject

A New Light on the Subject


          One of the easiest ways to save money on energy bills is to replace inefficient light bulbs with bulbs that produce just as much light but use less energy, according to Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.

          In 2007, President Bush signed into law a bill that required any light bulbs sold to meet minimum efficiency standards. Traditional incandescent bulbs do not meet these standards, so these bulbs are being phased out of production.  While the bill has been met with resistance and efforts to repeal the bill, it also has caused significant changes in the lighting industry.

          Whatever personal feelings one has about the law, energy-efficient light bulbs do save money and energy.  “People often do not think about the two costs that electronic equipment has,” Pedersen says. “There is the original purchase price and also the price of using the electronics. While it is true that an energy-efficient bulb will cost more to purchase, consumers easily will recoup the initial costs in energy savings.”

          For example, we assume a light bulb is on eight hours a day, at a typical electricity rate, a 60- watt bulb will cost $14.02 a year. If we replace that bulb with an equivalent compact fluorescent light (CFL), we will pay $3.04 in energy costs for that light, which is a savings of almost $11 a year on just one bulb. Multiply that by how many bulbs you have in your home and the savings really add up!

          CFLs are not the most efficient bulbs being sold in stores. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights use roughly half the energy of CFLs. LED lights that can be used in traditional light fixtures are being added to retail store shelves more often. While they are expensive ($20 to $50 per bulb), they are rated to last for years under normal use and will pay for themselves many times over in energy savings.

          CFL bulbs are not recommended for use with dimmer switches, in enclosed recessed-light fixtures or in ceiling fans with high vibrations. There are efficient lighting options for dimmers and recessed-light fixtures, but consumers need to educate themselves on the purchase they are making.



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