Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The low down on low energy bulbs

The move is on to shift from incandescent to low energy LED and CFL bulbs. For a business looking for a way to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce overhead expenses, these low energy use bulbs are a popular choice.

So what are the pros and cons of low energy bulbs?

  • On average, a low energy bulb uses about 20% of the electricity of a standard incandescent bulb.

  • The older low energy bulbs with their annoying flicker have been replaced with new designs that eliminate the flicker, and allow for dimming.

  • LED lights, which provide the brightest, cleanest light and the longest life are being designed to illuminate larger areas.

  • The UK and several U.S. states are looking at legislation to ban traditional incandescent bulb, so making the switch now could save a rush to adapt later.

But there are some drawbacks

  • Low energy bulbs last longer but they also cost more -- in some regions, a lot more

  • CFL bulbs contain mercury, which can be hazardous if they break. It can also present disposal issues.

  • LED bulbs are only available in a uni-directional design at this time.

  • Adapters are needed to use alternative bulbs in some fixtures and lamps. And some lamp shades do not work with alternative bulbs.

Businesses considering making the switch should look at the availability of low energy bulbs in their area, the cost of the new bulbs, the ability of new bulbs to work in existing fixtures, and the net savings from making the switch.

There are few websites to help you with information about low energy bulbs, including Carbon Footprint and Energy Saving Trust. Check out more sites in our sidebar.