How Illinois Residents Can Save Money on Energy-Efficient Lighting Upgrades

Tuesday February 14, 2012
Posted at 12:14

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If you live in Illinois and your electricity is delivered to your home by ComEd, you can get some really good deals on upgrading your lighting from traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

ComEd is giving price breaks on ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL blubs at retail stores throughout the electric utility’s service area. The great thing about CFL bulbs is that they use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs while lasting about 10 times longer. According to ComEd, that means the average CFL replacement for a 100 watt incandescent bulb can save a homeowner up to $71 over the life of the bulb.

Just remember, when you’re shopping for CFL replacement bulbs, make sure you shop by lumens (a bulb’s brightness) instead of watts (the amount of energy used by a bulb), since there’s a big difference in the amount of watts incandescent and CFL bulbs use.

You don’t have to do anything to earn price breaks on CFLs because the utility is providing instant shelf discounts. But there is a 12-bulb limit and a 6-fixture limit per purchase per customer.

Sources

Commonwealth Edison Co., “Light Your Way to Energy Savings.”

8 Tips for Adopting Energy-Efficient Lighting in Hotels and Motels of Any Size

Wednesday January 4, 2012
Posted at 14:27

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Whether you’re an energy manager for a large hotel or you run a small, independent motel, energy costs are one of the largest parts of your operating budget. However, your facility can realize enormous energy savings by adopting an energy-efficient lighting strategy. Many leaders in the hotel management industry may already be familiar with such a strategy, but for those who need some advice on how to save money on electric bills, here are eight tips for equipping your facility with energy-efficient lighting.

1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

CFL bulbs use about two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs and can be the easiest, most direct way to adopt energy-efficient lighting. Although CFLs had an early reputation for being limited in style and producing less light than their incandescent counterparts, those limitations have all but disappeared. Now CFLs come in a wide variety of styles and sizes and are just as bright. CFLs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs but they can last six to 10 times longer and save you about $25 to $30 in electricity costs over the lifetime of a single bulb. Make sure to compare lumens, not watts, when shopping for replacement bulbs. Watts represent the amount of energy used while lumen indicate brightness.

2. Replace “conventional” fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient fluorescent lamps

Many lodging facilities use fluorescent lighting in high traffic areas such as the lobby or office area. Consider swapping out your old fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient lamps that use 30 percent to 40 percent less electricity. These models are marked “T-12,” “T-8,” or “T-5,” which represents the diameter of the bulb in eighth-inches (for example, a T-12 lamp is 12/8 inch, or 1 1/2 inches, in diameter). Be sure to pair your new bulbs with the correct corresponding ballast, a device necessary for fluorescent lamp operation that regulates the bulb’s starting and operating characteristics.

3. Automate the regulation of electric power in a room

Consider installing a key tag system at the entrance of each guest room. The system uses a room key-card to activate and deactivate a master switch that turns on power to the room when guests are present and turns it off when guests leave. This technique ensures that only occupied rooms consume energy. Lighting, heating, air conditioning, radio and television can all be connected to the master switch.

4. Install occupancy or motion sensors

Use passive infrared or ultrasonic sensors to control lighting according to occupancy. These devices turn lights on when motion is detected and turn lights off when motion is no longer detected. Passive infrared sensors detect changes in heat and are best suited for large, unobstructed areas. An ultrasonic sensor emits sounds waves above the range of human hearing and detects differences in the time the waves take to return to the device. Ultrasonic sensors can detect motion around obstructions and are ideal for areas with cabinets and shelving, restrooms and places requiring 360-degree coverage.

5. Install nightlights that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

Many guests opt to leave a light on for themselves or their children while they sleep. While this may help them navigate an unfamiliar room at night, it wastes electricity. Instead of having guests turn on the bathroom light and crack the door, as is often the case, offer a nightlight to help them get around. One model uses six LEDs installed in the panel of a light switch.

6. Install EXIT signs that use LEDs

One of the advantages of LEDs is that they produce bright light while using about 95 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and 75 percent less than CFLs. Another advantage is that they last for about 20 years. Installing EXIT signs that use LEDs for illumination will not only save money, it will virtually eliminate the need to replace bulbs in the signs.

7. Add lighting controls

Installing lighting controls that use photo sensors to monitor daylight conditions is a great way to ensure that lights work only when needed. While a common solution is to turn on outdoor lighting fixtures at dusk and turn them off at dawn, lights using photo sensors are also a good choice for interior lighting in common areas with many windows that may not need lighting during much of the day. While on/off switches work well, there are also options for stepped controls and for continuous dimming controls, which are aesthetically appealing and offer the greatest energy savings.

8. Use high intensity discharge (HID) exterior lighting

Finally, make sure the exterior of your hotel or motel takes advantage of HID lighting. HID technology is much more efficient than incandescent, quartz-halogen and most fluorescent fixtures.

Have you adopted energy-efficient lighting for your hotel or motel? Share your story and let us know if you have other useful lighting tips for fellow professionals.

Sources

The State of Michigan, “Energy Efficient Lighting.”

How to Upgrade Your Home’s Incandescent Light Bulbs Using Lumens

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Upgrading your home’s lighting by replacing old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with new, energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help you save money on monthly electric bills. However, shopping for CFLs and LEDs might be a little confusing at first because you’re probably used to shopping for light bulbs based on watts, or the amount of power light bulbs use. Since CFLs and LEDs use fewer watts than incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light, you’ll instead need to shop for replacement bulbs based on brightness, or lumens.

Lumens are a measure of visible light emitted by a light bulb, while watts measure the amount of electricity it takes to produce those lumens. A 100-watt incandescent light bulb might produce 1,600 lumens, but a common CFL that produces 1,600 lumens might only use 25 watts and a common LED might use only 18 watts. After all, being able to use fewer watts to produce the same amount of light is what makes CFL and LED bulbs so energy efficient.

To help you find the right type of replacement CFLs or LEDs for your incandescent bulbs, here’s a handy chart to help you match lumens when you shop so that you get the brightness you’re looking for out of your new, energy-efficient light bulbs.

Incandescent Bulbs
(watts)
Minimum
Brightness
(lumens)
Common CFL Bulbs
(watts)
Common LED Bulbs
(watts)

25

250

4–9

4–5

40

450

9–13

6–7

60

800

13–15

7–8

75

1,100

18–25

9–13

100

1,600

23–30

16–20

125

2,000

22–40

20–25

150

2,600

40–45

25–28

Sources

Eartheasy, “LED Light Bulbs: Comparison Charts.”

ENERGY STAR, “Learn About Light Output.”

Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Affected by Uncertainty in Washington and at Home

Thursday August 11, 2011
Posted at 08:13

The debate over energy-efficient light bulbs is heating upThe debate over energy-efficient light bulbs is heating up.

When compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs hit mainstream America several years ago, consumers responded favorably. Incandescent light bulbs, one of the world’s great inventions, had undergone few changes since being patented by Thomas Edison 131 years ago and consumers seemed to like the idea having the option of spending more in the short-term for significantly longer-lasting light bulbs that could help save money off electric bills. Energy-efficient light bulbs were on the rise.

Then, when the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 was passed during the George W. Bush administration in order to promote, among other things, national energy savings through energy-efficient lighting, incandescent light bulbs really seemed like they were headed out the door. The act required a 25 percent increase in energy efficiency for most standard consumer light bulbs beginning in 2012 and phased out traditional incandescent bulbs over two years until they were removed from store shelves in 2014. The fate of incandescent light bulbs was assured.

But earlier this year, U.S. House Republicans suddenly had a change of heart about the death of the incandescent light bulb. In January, Rep. Joe Barton sponsored legislation that sought to repeal EISA, claiming the act to be a case of “government overreach.” When Barton’s proposed Better Use of Light Bulbs Act failed to pass the House on July 14, Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican from Lewisville, introduced an amendment the following day to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2012 that denies funding for the implementation of EISA. Burgess’ amendment passed the House, leaving the future of incandescent bulbs somewhat in limbo as the political debate over them continues.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Energy-Efficient Light Bulb

Not only is the fate of incandescent bulbs undecided in Washington, it’s also seemingly undecided in U.S. homes. Some consumers still prefer incandescent bulbs because of performance issues or up-front costs, while other consumers who want to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs may be confused by the choice they have between CFL bulbs, light emitting diodes (LEDs) and halogen incandescent bulbs.

Rachel Rothman, a consumer electronics and engineering senior test engineer at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, says that the first thing consumers need to understand about energy-efficient light bulbs is that many of the old concerns surrounding those manufactured before 2008, including performance issues such as off-lighting or light patterns, are no longer problems. To help consumers decide on which energy-efficient light bulb to use, Rothman offers up these five tips:

1. CFL bulbs might be the best all-around option.

New compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and they last about 10 times as long. The result is that they can pay for themselves in less than a year. The old spiral shape of the bulb is mostly gone now, replaced by CFLs made in the familiar “bulb” shape. CFLs are available in a wide range of colors, from whites to yellows. But there are some drawbacks. Not all work with dimmer switches and the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, which requires significant caution in case of breakage.

2. LEDs save the most energy but cost the most, too.

Light-emitting diodes use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs but can cost significantly more — up to $50 in some cases — although prices are continuing to fall. However, if estimates are correct, LEDs can last about 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and about 2.5 times longer than CFL bulbs.

3. Halogen incandescent bulbs cost the least but save the least amount of energy.

Traditional incandescent bulbs are filled with an inert gas but halogen incandescent bulbs are filled with halogen gas, which allows them to operate at higher temperatures and with brighter light and allows them to last three times longer. Although halogen incandescents use only about 25 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, they have the lowest upfront cost, widest variety of shapes and colors and work with dimmer switches.

4. Don’t be confused by watts.

When looking at energy-efficient light bulbs, pay attention to the lumens, not the watts. Watts tell you how much energy a bulb uses, not how bright it is. For brightness, look at lumens. A 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 800 lumens, a brightness that can be matched by a 15-watt CFL bulb.

5. Read labels carefully.

Labels on energy-efficient light bulbs are important. They’ll tell you everything you need to know, including if the bulb is Energy Star–certified, how bright it is (rated in lumens), how much energy it uses (rated in watts), the appearance of the light (from cool blue to white to warm yellow), the lifespan of the bulb and its estimated annual energy cost (both based on using the bulb for three hours a day) and disposal instructions for bulbs containing mercury.

Sources

Thomas Edison’s Bulb Set to Disappear by Next Year,” Anderson Independent Mail, Jan. 17, 2011.

Can Energy-Efficient CFL Bulbs Walk The Green Walk?Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 19, 2011.

Will the House Turn Out the Lights on Rep. Joe Barton’s Light Bulb Bill?The Houston Chronicle, July 12, 2011.

Rep. Michael Burgess Gives New Light to Joe Barton’s Bulb Bill,” The Houston Chronicle, July 14, 2011.

Light Years Ahead,” The Houston Chronicle, July 23, 2011.