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Archive for the 'CFL' Category

March 19th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

There is a good chance that you still have a few 60 watt incandescent light bulbs in your home. Even in the flurry to replace bulbs with CFL’s, they are most likely lurking in your table and floor lamps – the last bastion of familiar comfort lighting. The good news is that there are light bulb options that last longer, consume less energy, and provide up to 95% of the light output.

With the plans to phase out 60 watt incandescent light bulbs in the near future, it is a good idea to know what your alternatives are, not just for your lamps but for all of your household lighting needs…

Replacing That 60-Watt Light Bulb: A Cheat Sheet created by Pegasus Lighting.

When you’re considering cost, take into account the expected lifetime! Paying $25.70 every 23 years for one LED A19 is less expensive than paying $3.25 each year for a Halogen A19. The total for that Halogen A19 light bulb (and all its replacements) adds up to roughly $74.75 over 23 years.

January 30th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

The BC government is phasing out the old inefficient incandescent light bulbs, as a way to help us save money and become more energy efficient, but as a result, there’s a lot of myth-making going on about the compact fluorescent bulbs. Here’s a quick guide to help you discuss them with a disgruntled workmate or neighbour.

Myth #1. The old incandescent bulbs have been banned.

This is simply not true – the new regulations simply govern light bulbs in the 75-100 watt range. Philips has a range of Halogena Energy Advantage bulbs that are dimmable, contain no mercury, and meet the new standard.  

Myth #2. The waste heat from the old bulbs helps heat my home, reducing the amount of natural gas I need to burn.

It is true that the old incandescent bulbs produce waste heat – this is why they are so inefficient as lights. If you’re burning gas for heat, the argument goes, removing the bulbs means burning more gas, increasing your greenhouse gases. 

But let’s pause to think. Electricity in North America is constantly traded across borders. BC Hydro imports between 5% and 15% of its electricity, depending on the depth of snowpack, mostly from coal and gas-fired power in the US. When we use less power, it’s the imported power that we reduce, so even if the new bulbs increase the use of gas, this is balanced by the decreased use of imported coal and gas fired power. Also, since most bulbs are close to the ceiling, the waste heat rises, where it’s neither useful nor near the thermostat that regulates gas heating. In warmer months, it’s just waste heat, plain and simple.

80% of British Columbians are already using CFLs, resulting in 600 gigawatt hours of electricity savings per year, the same as the electricity consumed by more than 50,000 homes. If this came from a mix of imported coal and gas-fired power, it would generate 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) a year.

The belief that using the new light bulbs will cause BC’s GHGs to rise comes from measuring our GHGs as a strictly provincial affair, excluding our imported power. As soon as BC is 100% self-sufficient in green power, the energy saved by using the new bulbs will allow more green power to be exported, helping to reduce the need for coal and gas-fired power outside BC.   

Myth #3. They contain mercury! 

Yes, they do contain a tiny amount of mercury. Tuna contains mercury too, which comes from the air pollution that coal-fired power plants produce. Francis Rubinstein from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that if you broke a bulb and did a good job of cleaning up, your mercury exposure would be like taking a tiny nibble of tuna. If you closed all the doors and smashed the bulb with a hammer, it would be like eating a can of tuna, since fish absorb the mercury in air pollution from coal-fired power.

So it’s no big deal, unless you make a daily habit of smashing the bulbs. If you do break one, open a window, leave the room for 15 minutes, and then brush up the waste – don’t vacuum it. For more safety details, see www.bit.ly/CFLsafety, and the Environmental Working Group’s Guide.

In 2009, the US-based Environmental Working Group produced a Shopper’s Guide to Light Bulbs, and recommended seven bulbs which have the lowest mercury and also last the longest: the Earthmate Mini-Size, Litetronics Neolite, Sylvania Micro-Mini, Sylvania DURA-ONE, Feit EcoBulb, MaxLite, and Philips with Alto.

Myth #4.  They produce a sickly flickering pale light.

Yes, it’s true – some do. So don’t buy those ones! Buy quality bulbs! If you want warm yellow light, look for ones labeled with a lower colour temperature (Kelvin) around 3,000. If you want a white light, look for bulbs marked “daylight, with a high colour temperature around 5,000. Here is another useful guide to buying a CFL bulb, which also has lots of good advice from on-line readers.

Myth #5. They don’t work with dimmers.

True in 2007, but not today. If you want a CFL bulb that works with a dimmer switch, they’re more expensive (and waste more energy), but you can buy one.

Myth #6. They don’t last as long as promised.

In California, the utility PG&E found that instead of 9.4 years of useful life, the reality is closer to 6.3 years, with a faster burn-out rate in certain locations such as bathrooms and recessed lighting. But a regular light bulb burns out after 1,000 hours, so the new bulbs still last six times longer.

Myth #7. They don’t come on immediately.

No longer true in most cases. In my home, all but two of our 47 CFLs come on almost immediately.

Myth #8. There’s no safe disposal mechanism.

For sure there is – recycling programs for residential CFLs are mandated by provincial regulation. You can find the nearest recycling drop-off at www.productcare.org/lights

Myth #9. They produce “dirty electricity”.

This refers to the myth that the new bulbs produce harmful electromagnetic radiation, and the experience that some people have a bad reaction to the UV light. It does appear that some people who suffer from lupus and certain skin conditions can be negatively affected by some bulbs, in which case they should buy a bulb marked as low UV, with a glass cover. For the vast majority of people, who have been using billions of bulbs all over the world for many years, there are no negative health effects.  

Myth #10. They don’t work in really cold weather.

This is generally true – so look for ones with a special cold cathode weather ballast, which are good down to -23ºC.    

How Much Will I Save?

BC Hydro says that if the average household replaced all its incandescent bulbs with CFLs, it would save 830 kWh a year, which comes to around $60. BC Hydro’s CFL Fact Sheet says that replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL will save $52 in electricity over the life of the bulb. BC Hydro says that 80% of British Columbians are already using CFLs, that we are already realizing 600 gigawatt hours of electricity savings per year, the equivalent energy consumption of more than 50,000 homes. 

For more good information about the new light bulbs, see BC Hydro’s Guide

What about LED lighting?

LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are more efficient than CFLs – but they are still very expensive ($20-$40), and their light is still very focused and limited. Prices will fall, and the technology will improve; in ten years they may well be the #1 bulbs.

So remind me – why are the old inefficient bulbs being phased out? They use four times more energy than the CFL bulbs, so making the switch plays a small but important role in helping us save energy, save  money, reduce the use of coal-fired power, and protect our children’s future. And that has my whole-hearted support.

Article Souce: Author Guy Dauncey, President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. www.bcsea.org

January 11th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

The most popular sizes of incandescent light bulbs will disappear from most store shelves in B.C. within the next few weeks and the most common replacement lights cost up to 10 times more to buy.

Ikea stopped ordering incandescent bulbs last August. Canadian Tire stores have no more than a two-month supply of 75- and 100-watt bulbs, while the London Drugs warehouse is already empty.

“The stores might have up to a three-month supply,” said London Drugs administrator Maury McCausland. Then again, maybe not.

“We’ve seen a spike in sales of incandescent bulbs with some of our older customers coming in and stocking up,” he said. “But the younger people really want the energy savings.”

“Compact fluorescent lights [CFLs] and halogen lights have absorbed 60 per cent of the light bulb market in just the past two years,” McCausland said.

The province ordered retailers to stop restocking the two most popular incandescent bulbs by Jan. 1 as part of the transition to more efficient lighting technologies required by the federal government’s new standards. In 2012, all of the common sizes of incandescent bulbs will be banned for sale in Canada, as they are, or will be, in many western nations.

For simple light bulb replacement, consumers usually opt for compact fluorescent lights that match the general shape of a common light bulb and screw into the medium base used in most overhead lighting.

“We have clearly seen CFL sales trend up over the last two-three years,” said Glen Gillis, manager of the Cambie Street Canadian Tire. “Over the last few years, the CFL line of products has grown far beyond the twisty style bulb … customers are becoming aware of the increasing options in CFL products and we expect sales to continue to be very strong.”

CFLs use only 25 per cent of the energy that a regular light bulb draws to produce the same amount of light. But prepare yourself for a sticker shock. CFLs cost anywhere from five to 10 times as much as a regular light bulb, ranging from $5 to $12 each. On the upside, they tend to last about eight times as long.

Switching a single 100-watt incandescent bulb to a 25-watt compact fluorescent light bulb can save you $30 in energy costs over its lifetime, according to BC Hydro. Energy savings like that can significantly reduce your home’s carbon footprint, particularly in regions where electricity is generated by burning coal. In jurisdictions such as B.C. where the carbon footprint of hydroelectric energy is very small, energy savings help reduce the need to build expensive new power generation infrastructure.

Fluorescent lighting does carry an environmental cost. Because the bulbs contain mercury vapour, they must be handled with care and properly recycled and the mercury may leach into groundwater or find its way to the ocean.

Big advances in technology are helping ease the fluorescent light’s bad reputation for light quality, earned over decades of casting flickery, hard light in institutional settings such as schools and hospitals, according to Silvie Casanova, a spokeswoman for Phillips Lighting.

New-generation fluorescents can produce softer, more natural light and can be designed to work in lamps, recessed light fixtures and even with dimmer switches, all historic weaknesses of the technology.

“There is another alternative to CFLs and that is another incandescent light, the halogen bulb,” said Casanova. “It uses 30-per-cent less energy than the conventional incandescent bulb.”

“You really have three options: the more advanced incandescents such as halogens, CFLs and LEDs,” she said.

LED lights are beginning to emerge as the favourite choice for people purchasing new lighting systems, rather than just replacing burnt-out bulbs. LED lights can last 25 years or more under normal use.

“LEDs are already 15 per cent of our business and that’s up 68 per cent from last year,” Casanova said. “We expect that by 2015 LED will account for 50 per cent of lighting sales.”

LED lights and their high-tech cousin, the OLED (organic light emitting diode), are the lighting technologies of the future, agreed David Feldman, co-founder of online lighting retailer Ylighting. In OLED technology, the illumination comes from a thin layer of organic material incorporated into super-thin flat panels that emit light.

“LEDs are definitely a growth part of our business,” he said. “But CFLs will be around while we still need replacement bulbs for medium base fixtures.”

Legislative pressure and technology expanded the available range of light size. “It’s not just about putting 60- or 75-watt light bulbs in every part of the house,” Casanova said. “You can think about how you are going to use a light and how you want to cast that light before you choose a light for your specific application.”

Article Source: Vancouver Sun – The Green Man Blog

Footnote: CFL bulbs require special handling and disposal. This article from Jetsongreen may be of assistance.

October 7th, 2010
By Vivian Martin

With all the changes in lighting, it is great to see a comprehensive reference guide published for consumers.  The following article is a mere synopsis. If you have a thirst to be “enlightened” we would recommend reading the entire book. 

7 questions for Brian Clark Howard, TDG editor and the author of the new book Green Lighting.

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.

See more surprising facts about lighting you don’t know but should.

Read the full article from The Daily Green by By Dan Shapley here…

 



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