Tech-Friendly: Choosing an energy efficient light bulb

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

I am not sure what inspired me, but I searched The Rock River Times’ archive for “energy saving light bulbs” and did not find a matching article, so I decided to write an article about energy efficient lamps and energy saving light bulbs. There is probably an article hidden somewhere, but this article should be pretty easy to find with all the keywords I will use.

Consumers have many choices in energy efficient light bulbs today, among them: halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diode (LED) lamps. Each bulb style has strengths and weaknesses.

The halogen models are not as efficient as CFL or LED bulbs, but do not pose the safety hazard CFLs do. CFLs are more efficient than halogen bulbs, but CFLs contain a little bit of mercury and should be recycled properly. Many sources recycle CFLs at no cost. LED lamps last a long time and are extremely energy efficient, but cost more than halogen or CFL energy efficient bulbs.

All three styles mentioned here are much more efficient that the old-style incandescent bulbs, which cast off more energy as heat than light. Lighting costs can account for up to 25 percent of your home energy budget, so getting more light and less heat from your bulbs is in the best interest of your pocketbook.

I am not going to tell you which bulb is best for you; rather, I offer the primer above, and links to these very informative websites:

• “Lighting Choices to Save You Money” at: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/lighting-choices-save-you-money;

• “Light Bulbs for Consumers” at: http://www.energystar.gov/products/certified-products/detail/light-bulbs; and

• “Energy Efficient Lighting” at: http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm.

However, I suggest that if you are not likely to recycle your light bulbs, choose the halogen or LED models. We do not want mercury at any level going into our landfills. It is not hard to recycle CFLs, though. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, “Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out,” at http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out for more information about recycling CFLs.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

Posted Jan. 21, 2015

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