The age old adage is you should turn off lights when leaving a room. Ironically, this is not always correct if you are concerned about saving a bit of money on your utility bill.
Saving Energy By Turning Lights Off
My mother used to get so angry when I continually failed to turn off the lights when leaving a room. It took her years to beat me down on the subject, but I now turn off lights as a matter of habit. Ironically, the new energy efficient light bulbs on the market may change this general assumption. Darn, I will have to retain myself.
Invented in the 1880s, the incandescent light bulb has been with us forever. This bulb we know and love, however, is not really devoted to producing light. Instead, it is really a little heater that produces light as a byproduct. In fact, of the total energy produced by one of these bulbs, only 15 percent or so is in the form of light. There have been minor improvements to the bulb over the years, but nothing that changes this fact.
In the last twenty years, enterprising minds started to think about lighting in different ways. After much trial and error, the fluorescent light bulbs came on the scene. After more trial and error, the latest version of compact fluorescent light bulbs has been hailed as huge energy savers and the best way to light a home now. They are 50 to 70 percent more efficient than incandescent light bulbs and have received the Energy Star certification from the government. These bulbs are a bit more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but they last longer and will save you far more than they cost on your utility bill.
There is, however, one issue with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Their life span can be severely shortened if you turn them on and off frequently. Unlike incandescent bulbs, it takes them a while to fire up and turn off. Much like turning on and off your car, this process puts a lot of strain on the components. At 6 to 10 bucks a bulb, you do not want to be replacing them at a frequent rate!
The Department of Energy has actually looked into this issue. After spending more money than we probably want to know, the agency issued a simple guideline on the subject. If you have compact fluorescent light bulbs, you should not automatically turn them off when you leave the room. Instead, you should leave them on if you will be coming back within 15 minutes or less.
Hey, you heard it here.
Rick Chapo is with SolarCompanies.com - a resource for solar power articles .