Frequently Asked Questions About Eco-Friendly Light Bulbs

Buying eco-friendly light bulbs can be a challenge with so many choices now available. Many consumers are still unsure what casts the most flattering light and what equates to the most dollar savings. When it comes to deciding between CFL bulbs, LEDs, or halogen lamps, learn what to look for.

Q: When does it make good financial sense to consider eco-friendly
light bulbs?

A: Eco-friendly light bulbs are a smart choice for lamps and fixtures
that are on for at least three hours a day. This is based on a September
2009 national average residential electricity rate of $ 0.12 per
kilowatt hour. In the dozen U.S. states (1) where hourly rates exceed
$ 0.15, two hours of daily use is sufficient.

Depending on the lamp type, you should save enough on electricity costs
for a payback period under two years. And since all types of
eco-friendly light bulbs last longer than traditional ones, there should
be plenty of life left in them after payback.

Q: What is a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)?

A: CFL bulbs use electric current and gas to create ultraviolet (UV)
energy. In turn, this energy excites phosphors which coat the inside of
the glass which creates the structure of the lamp. The phosphors
transform the UV to visible light.

Many CFLs have traditional screw-in bases and are suitable, energy
efficient replacements for old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

Q: What are the benefits of CFL bulbs?



Q: Are eco-friendly light bulbs a good choice for the dimming
fixtures I already use in my home?

A: Yes but first, keep in mind that dimming any bulb is an effective way
to reduce electricity costs, carbon emissions and waste because even
incandescent bulbs will last longer the more frequently they are dimmed.

Consider how often these fixtures are lit. If the fixture is lit for
more than three hours per day, eco-friendly light bulbs are a smart

For maximum energy savings at a reasonable cost, dimmable CFL bulbs are a
good choice.

High efficiency halogen lamps are preferable if you desire superior
light quality and maximum dimmability for great ambiance.

Q: When selecting eco-friendly light bulbs, how do I decide the right
wattage so I get the amount of light I need?

A: Consumers have been buying traditional incandescent bulbs for so long
that they’ve come to think of watts as the amount of light the bulb
yields. In fact, “lumens” are the measure of light output at the source,
while watts are the amount of electricity consumed.

The best way to choose eco-friendly light bulbs is to start by deciding
how many lumens will do the job. Then read the package label and choose
the lamp with this output.

As far as traditional incandescent “A” type lamps, 25 watts equals
approximately 210 lumens; 40 watts=500 lumens; 60 watts=850 lumens; 75
watts=1,200 lumens; 100 watts=1,700 lumens; and, finally, 150 watts is
equivalent to about 2,800 lumens.

Tip: when selecting a CFL, remember that their light output will
diminish by about 25% over the bulb’s life. Think about buying one with
higher initial lumens than required so as their brightness fades (and
your eyes age), you’ll still have enough light in your space.

Q: I’m uncomfortable with the fact that CFL bulbs contain mercury.
Are there mercury-free options among eco-friendly light bulbs?

A: Yes! High efficiency halogen lamps and LEDs are mercury-free.

Q: I hear a lot about LED lights. When are they worth considering?

A: Premium quality LEDs from reputable manufacturers are still
expensive. For most consumers LEDs only make financial sense in light
fixtures that are on at least six to eight hours a day. LEDs might make
sense in these situations:

A: No. We think that would be a mistake. Take a hall closet light for
example: maybe it gets switched on once every other day for two minutes.
Its annual electricity draw is practically nothing. Why spend $ 5 on a
light bulb to replace one that’s working just fine and costs almost
nothing to operate?

Focus on the 3-5 fixtures that are on for at least 2-3 hours every day.
Pick these low-hanging fruit – where electricity and pollution savings
can be had for a minimal investment. If money is still burning a hole in
your pocket and you want to satisfy your eco-conscience, hire a
qualified energy auditor to check your home. You’ll get a punch list
where green investments will make much greater contributions to your

Works Cited

1. AK, CA, CT, HI, NH, NJ, NY, MA, MD, ME, RI and VT

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