Fluorescent lighting gives you more bang for your buck – no, light for your buck – while being an environmentally friendly choice. By simply switching your incandescent bulbs for fluorescents, you can save both money and the environment – at least that’s what the newspapers and magazines are saying. And you’re thinking it seems to good to be true, right? There must be another side to that story. And if you remember the old fluorescent lighting that would flicker for awhile before the light came on and then had that nasty blueish-green tone, you probably figured that saving a few bucks and a small portion of the environment isn’t worth it. But you’d be wrong – at least, according to what I learned during my visit to Kichler Lighting
in Akron, Ohio.
Fluorescent lighting did have a bad reputation for quite some time. Banned to only being used in workrooms, offices and other places where saving a few dollars was more important than enjoying the space. But times have changed, and fluorescent lighting has become an attractive option for all places in the home – not just the laundry room. So, you might want to start thinking about switching the standard incandescent bulbs you’ve been using for fluorescents.
“In the last five years, this technology has matured at a rapid rate, to the point where I don’t believe that you can tell the difference between a fluorescent lamp and an incandescent lamp,” the Senior Product Manager at Kichler Lighting, Jeff Dross, said. “But keep in mind, keep your color-rendering index high, use a 27 Kelvin, that’s what you want to look for on the box.”
If you don’t purchase fluorescent bulbs with a high color-rendering index, the quality of light won’t be as flattering and may remind you a bit of the old fluorescents. But with a 27 Kelvin fluorescent light bulb, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful light while enjoying the extra side effects of having a few extra bucks in your wallet and contributing to cleaner air.
The secret behind fluorescent lighting’s ability to save you money while saving the environment is its energy efficient way of producing light. The bulbs most people use in their homes right now, incandescent bulbs, create light by burning a filament, which is probably where the phrase “it’s burned out” came from when a light bulb goes bad. But you can’t say that with fluorescents, because they run off of gas.
“Essentially heat is a very inefficient light,” Dross said. “It is very inefficient and it consumes a large amount of electricity to keep that little element hot [inside incandescent bulbs]. In [fluorescent bulbs] it takes a lot of energy to initially get the electrons moving, but after that it doesn’t take much to keep the electrons glowing.”
As a result, fluorescent bulbs require far less energy to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent. But does switching to fluorescents really save you that much money, or is it all hype? That’s what I asked Dross, and his answer shocked me.
“I hate to see the boxes in the store that say, you’re going to save $100,” Dross said. “So I have a really simple method or formula.”
Dross’s method compares a 60 watt incandescent light bulb with a 13 watt fluorescent bulb because those two bulbs have an equal light output. If you use the 13 watt fluorescent light bulb for four hours a day for one year, you will save about five dollars a year based on the average energy costs in America in 2007, according to Dross. That can be a fairly big savings when you start thinking about how many light bulbs you have in your home. Not to mention, many lights in your home may be on for much longer than four hours a day.
Plus, it’s easy to switch to fluorescent lighting. You don’t need to purchase new light fixtures to take advantage of fluorescent lighting’s benefits. Fluorescent bulbs that fit in your current light fixtures are readily available and screw in just like the incandescent bulbs.
But I must warn you, at this point in the conversation, many people start heading to the grocery store to purchase some fluorescent bulbs and when they get there, they become outraged when they see the prices. Fluorescent bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs, but that’s for a good reason. Fluorescents last longer.
“You’re only replacing [fluorescent bulbs] every 10,000 hours,” Dross said.
An incandescent bulbs burns out in about 800 hours, according to Dross. So when you see the fluorescent bulb prices in the grocery store know that you’re making an investment. Plus, an added bonus is there will be less waste and less climbing to change burnt out bulbs.
The bottom line:
switch to fluorescent lighting. You’ll save money. You’ll help save the environment. You’ll have beautiful light that looks just like what you’ve been using, and it will turn on instantly unlike the old ones.