Money is tight right now for just about everyone. Gas prices have gone crazy and grocery costs are outrageous.
I will shed some light on some energy-saving items that can help you save on your electric bill. Here are some ways to light your home using the same amount of light for less money.
According to energysavers.gov, upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50 per year. New lighting standards have taken effect, and money-saving options such as energy-saving incandescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are available today to help make a difference in your energy costs.
When President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the purpose of was to reduce energy consumption and to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. As part of that law, improvements in the energy efficiency of certain incandescent light bulbs were required. This is because “old-fashioned” incandescent bulbs convert only 10 percent of the energy they use into light — the remaining 90 percent is converted to heat. Since lighting accounts for almost 15 percent of the household electricity used in the United States, according to bcap-energy.org, it makes sense to improve the energy efficiency of lighting.
The law requires that common household incandescent bulbs that traditionally have used between 40 and 100 watts must become about 27 percent more efficient by 2014. Manufacturers successfully have met the new standards by adding halogen gas to the incandescent bulb, which allows the same brightness of light to be produced using less energy. By 2020, according to energystar.gov, most bulbs must be 60-70 percent more efficient, which are standards that fluorescent bulbs meet today. The law does not apply to some types of incandescent bulbs — such as candelabra-based, appliance, three-way 150 watt bulbs, bug lights and several other categories.
The newest trend in energy-efficient lighting is the LED. These new bulbs are extremely energy efficient, emit almost no heat and can last for decades. Unfortunately, LEDs still are relatively expensive and are limited in style and brightness.
The new energy-saving incandescent lights also are about 25 percent more efficient at this point, according to the Department of Energy.
CFLs use less electricity than traditional incandescents and can pay for themselves in less than nine months. An ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts 10 times longer than a comparable incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light. The prices of CFLs have dropped dramatically during the past few years.
Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and they always should be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Many retailers recycle CFLs for free. Check out www.epa.gov/cfl for more information.
The LED is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies. ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20-25 percent of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace.
LED bulbs currently are available in many products. While LEDs are more expensive at this stage, they still save money because they last a long time and have very low energy use.
As of January 2012, all lighting manufacturers must use standardized labels that should make it easier to pick the right light bulb. We will no longer use the old “watt” rating to indicate a bulb’s brightness. That term is replaced by terms like brightness, light appearance, life expectancy and energy use.
This information and more on energy-saving ideas are available at www.energysaver.gov.
City-wide cleanups March 24: Midway, Allenhurst, Gum Branch; April 14: Flemington, Riceboro; April 28: Hinesville, Walthourville
To volunteer your group or as an individual in this year’s Great American Cleanup events, call 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All cleanup supplies will be provided at each event. A picnic and T-shirts will be provided for all volunteers.