Home Energy conservation Ask Eartha: What types of bulbs are right for me?

Ask Eartha: What types of bulbs are right for me?

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Although all bulbs share the same function – to light up the dark – some use more energy than others to do so.
Jason Connolly/High Country Conservation Center

Dear Eartha, I heard a rumor that certain types of light bulbs were soon to be banned. Which give?

You heard it right! From 2023, incandescent bulbs will be banned in the United States. And that’s for good reason, because not all light bulbs work as efficiently as the others. Although all bulbs share the same function – to light up the dark – some use more energy than others to do so. In fact, the US Department of Energy estimates that lighting accounts for over 15% of your home’s energy consumption.. We all know energy isn’t free, so investing in energy-efficient lighting can make a noticeable difference to your electricity bill.

But what type of bulb reigns supreme? Read on for an explainer on the different types of light bulbs and why LEDs are still the preferred choice for energy and money savings.



Types of bulbs

There are four common types of bulbs: incandescent, halogen, fluorescent and LED.



The oldest bulbs are incandescent bulbs. Invented in the 19e century, incandescent bulbs are famous for their heat. They produce light by electrically heating a metal filament until it glows. However, 90% of the energy used to power an incandescent light bulb is lost as waste heat, which is not what a light bulb is designed for. After all, it’s a light bulb, not a heating bulb. Plus, these bulbs only last 1,000 hours, which means they need to be replaced quite often. For homes and businesses that have lots of lighting, this can be a time-consuming chore.

Then we have halogen bulbs. Redesigned incandescent bulbs, they look like a light bulb within a light bulb. Halogen lamps last twice as long as incandescent lamps, but they do not offer a significant increase in efficiency and they are still very fragile.

The 20e century brought fluorescent light bulbs to the scene. Unlike incandescent bulbs, fluorescents do not have metallic filaments. Instead, a glass tube is coated on the inside with phosphorus powder and filled with small amounts of mercury and inert gas. Electricity flowing through these gases creates a chemical reaction that produces visible white light.

Initially, fluorescent light bulbs were only used in commercial applications, but the 1973 oil crisis inspired the invention of a fluorescent light bulb for household use – the spiral-shaped compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL. You may have a few in your house. Fluorescent bulbs can last 10 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. This is great for efficiency, but they have an environmental downside. The mercury in these bulbs is detrimental to human and environmental health, so it is imperative that CFL bulbs are disposed of properly. Fortunately, Summit County residents can recycle fluorescent tubes and light bulbs at Summit County Resource Allocation Park. free.

Finally, the latest and greatest lighting technology is the LED, or Light Emitting Diode. LEDs use a semiconductor to convert electricity into light, requiring 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb. This makes LEDs the most energy efficient bulbs on the market. I’ve heard people say they don’t like LEDs because the light is too bright, but that’s no longer true. Today, LEDs come in different shapes, sizes and color temperatures so you can create a warm and welcoming living room or install brighter lights in your office. Because they last so long, LEDs are a big help for hard-to-reach fixtures in your home and for businesses looking to reduce maintenance time and energy costs.

How much do LEDs save compared to your old incandescent lighting? Again, based on Department of Energy statistics, the average US household could save about $225 per year by using LED lighting.. Want to try LED lighting? High Country Conservation Center offers free LED lighting kits to residents to help you start saving energy and money. Pick up yours during regular business hours at the center office at 737 Ten Mile Drive in Frisco.

For businesses and homeowners associations, LED retrofit projects often have remarkably short payback periods while providing better lighting for your space. You do not know where to start ? Join the Center for a Free Lunch ‘N’ Learn Party at HighSide Brewing July 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Attendees will learn about interior and exterior lighting options as well as discounts to help pay for upgrades. For more information and to RSVP, visit HighCountryConservation.org.

Narelle Kipple
High Country Conservation Center / Courtesy Photo

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff of the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit your questions to Eartha at [email protected]