Go green with lighting to lower energy costs

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Many people don’t consider their lights and fixtures; as long they turn on when the switch is flicked, what’s the issue?

Lighting can actually be a significant source of energy use in many homes and businesses. When we consider the lighting we are using, for example, how many bulbs or fixtures are being used, what type they are and how long they are left on for, we can determine ways to reduce the amount of energy we are using in our homes and businesses.

Reduced energy leads to more money in your pocket. Read more to find out how to make your lighting more environmentally friendly, reduce your energy usage and save money.

There are a number of different types of lighting and each of these light types use different amounts of energy. Understanding how each lighting type works can help home and business owners identify their current lighting and make smarter choices when it comes to bulb selection, renovations and general lighting choices:

Incandescent light bulbs are the classic globe-style light bulbs with which most people are familiar. These bulbs produce light by heating a wire to a high temperature until it glows. These lights use a lot of energy because more than 95 per cent of the electricity they use goes towards producing heat. This means lots of energy for only a little bit of light. They are not an environmentally friendly lighting source and many countries and regions are phasing them out.

Compact Florescent Lights (CFL)
Most people will recognize the CFL light bulb by its twisted appearance. CFL bulbs use about 75 per cent less energy than the original incandescent light bulbs and are a great choice to reduce energy use. Many people have already made the switch from incandescent to CFL. Be sure to recycle all used CFL bulbs at your local recycling station, as they contain a small amount of mercury.

Halogen lights are found in many different fixtures, but a common fixture is ceiling pot lights or recessed lighting. The halogen bulbs operate similar to an incandescent bulb and as a result, they operate at very high temperatures and use a lot of energy. A great alternative is LED fixtures.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)
There has been a lot of buzz lately about LED lighting, but many people are still wondering what the technology is and why they should install it?
LED, or light emitting diode lighting, is very energy efficient, produces bright light, generates very little heat and uses much less power than other typical lighting sources. One LED light can last approximately 50,000 hours, compared to the 1,200 hours an incandescent light bulb lasts for. LED bulbs are also eco-friendly and are 100 per cent recyclable.
Home and commercial owners may want to consider installing LED lighting in new builds, or even renovating existing buildings with LED lights, as there is a big opportunity to reduce energy use and save money. But be aware not all LED bulbs are made equally; look for the ones with the ENERGY STAR label to make sure you are getting a quality product.

The following strategies can help to reduce energy use from lighting. These are generally low-cost solutions that can make a big difference to your energy bill.

Switch from incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs
CFL bulbs use about 75 per cent less energy than the classic incandescent bulbs. Although they cost more than incandescent bulbs, they also last about eight to 10 times longer and you can see significant savings on your electricity bill. By replacing all incandescent bulbs in an average home with CFL bulbs, a family could save as much as 830 kWh (Kilowatt hours) each year. That’s about as much energy as you would use to do 1,250 loads of laundry.

Timers are a great way to reduce energy usage from lighting. Timers can be set to automatically turn lights on or off at a specified time and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Using timers with Christmas lights, for example, can be a great way to reduce energy usage. Timers can be used for interior and exterior lighting throughout the year.

Installing fixtures with sensors means the lights only go on when the sensor is activated by motion. This can be a great option for both commercial and residential buildings.
Exterior flood lighting is a common fixture that features sensors, but many other options are available. For example, there are new sensor lighting fixtures available that have the option of a “dusk” setting; the light will automatically come on at dusk at a lower brightness level, reducing energy usage, and will then brighten automatically when the sensor detects movement. 
Interior motion sensors are another option; these sensors shut off lights when there is no movement detected, saving money and reducing energy usage. These are commonly seen in public buildings such as schools, colleges and universities.

Solar lighting
Instead of using electricity to power outdoor lights, try using solar lighting. Solar lights can be purchased from local hardware stores, are relatively inexpensive and do not require any electricity nor batteries. Solar lights get “charged up” from the sunlight during the day, and when dusk comes, the lights turn on. The charge lasts for many hours into the night and these lights look great. They are also very easy to install, are portable and last for many years.

We can all make a positive difference in our everyday activities and choices. Visit Niagara Sustainability Initiative at http://niagarasustainability.org/ for more information on sustainability in the Niagara Region and tips on how you can get involved with reducing your impact on the environment.

Jen Hart is a writer for Niagara Sustainability Initiative. Source: https://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/guides_tips/green-your-home/lighting_guide/energy_efficient_lighting.html.

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