Many people are concerned over the new lighting standards that have come into effect in 2012 and are being phased in to improve light bulbs efficiencies by 2014. The new CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp) and LED (light-emitting diode) lights appear more expensive at first, and many have complained about the quality of light. The reality of these new energy efficient bulbs is that they will save you money, provide the same amount of light, and help relieve the burden on the power grid.
What the New Standards Mean to You
The new standards do not mean that the old style bulb will no longer be available. Specialty lights such as 3 way bulbs, colored lights and other heavy duty bulbs will still be made to the same standards. The new regulations just state that, by 2014, all bulbs must use 25% less energy. Many people take this to mean that the new style bulbs will produce less light but this is not true. Whether it be parking lot lighting, holiday lights or in-home room lighting, the amount of light given off will be the same as before.
This is because the majority of energy a light bulb now generates is not in the form of illumination, but heat. The energy efficient bulbs give off less heat than its standard counterpart, thus using less electricity to illuminate it. However, it has been noticed that the actual light given off looks different than what we are used to. It does take a week or so to adjust to the change in light as it is “cooler” than the old style bulbs, giving off a bluer tint, but it provides no less illumination.
How much will you actually save?
The new CFL and LED bulbs are more expensive than the old bulbs, and a promised 10% annual savings on your electric utility bill somehow doesn’t seem to make up the difference at first glance. However, the best way to understand it is to look at the difference in cost over the span of 5 years.
Say you were to use standard bulbs in your home for 5 years, and your electric bill (for lighting costs only) was $550 a year. But when you have to replace 15 bulbs twice a year at $2.99 a bulb, you would be spending $550 a year plus an additional $89.70 in light bulbs for a total cost of $639.70 a year. That means that over a span of 5 years, you will spend close to $3198.50 in electric light costs alone. With the new bulbs, you will save 10% on your cost, bringing your annual light bill down to $495, and only replace each of those bulbs once at a cost of $4.99 a bulb (15 x 4.99= 74.85). Now in 5 years, you will only need to spend $2549.85. This means that by switching just 15 bulbs over to the new energy efficient ones will save you approximately $648.95 in lighting costs, almost $130 per year.
The Broader Impact
The new regulations state that you can still purchase specialty bulbs that are not CFL if you wish. But it is important to consider the broader impact when weighing your options. After all, in addition to saving you an estimated 10% yearly on your electric bill (or $6 billion annually for US homeowners), this also means that there will be a massive reduction of the stress put on the power grid. Brownouts and blackouts can be avoided in areas like Miami if everyone reduced the amount of electricity they consumed. During hurricane season, CFL and LED lighting sources will also significantly reduce the strain on generators should they be needed.
Reducing our electricity consumption is the most effective way to practice energy management. With the new CFL’s popping up everywhere, like highway and parking lot lighting, the largest consumers of electricity can ease the strain on our resources by simply switching over to a new bulb.