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The Facts About Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

  Posted:2010/9/14 10:59:45  Click:2813 [Back]
The Daily Green is thrilled to announce the publication of TDG editor Brian Clark Howard's latest book, Green Lighting, a slim (218 pages) but comprehensive reader-friendly guide to energy efficient lighting (McGraw Hill, $24.95). Whether you can't remember the difference between a CFL and an LED, or you're a professional designer considering the merits of solar tube lighting, this book has the information you're looking for. (CFL is a compact fluorescent bulb, by the way – those usually corkscrew-shaped bulbs; an LED is a light emitting diode, like those on alarm clocks and flashlights.)
The Daily Green sat down with Howard for a Q&A about some of the interesting facts he learned from writing this book.
What are the most surprising things you learned about lighting while researching and writing this book?
Some experts told me dimmers are arguably more important than changing bulbs. A modern dimmer that uses electric circuitry is more efficient and will cut energy use by a minimum of 5%, if it isn't used at all, and much more when it is used.
And definitely give halogens more of a second look. They're roughly 30% more efficient than incandescents (CFLs are about 75% more efficient and LEDs 90% more efficient) but they are a really good stopgap, and they last several times longer. Most designers say that if you want dimming, you should go with halogens today. LEDs are dimmable but there are few on the market, so they're relatively expensive now, although prices are falling fast.
Why aren't LEDs everywhere now?
There's already 100% LED penetration for things like flashlights and desk lamps. People say, "They seem really bright, why is it so hard to get a room bulb?" For directed light, like a beam from a flashlight, they are really efficient. But LEDs haven't been as good at emitting light in all directions. They are rapidly improving, and manufacturers are able to use more LED chips and better reflect and control the light. There's a kind of Moore's Law for LEDs, called Haitz's Law: Like with computer chips, there's a doubling of brightness for the same cost with each new generation of LED.

Even right now, LEDs will pay for themselves in a few years, so they can be a smart investment for those who own their homes or businesses – especially those that use a lot of lighting. Typical consumers may want to try out the exciting new bulbs that are hitting major stores over the next few months: a good quality LED will cost around $20.
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