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Naturally Frugal: Change Those Lightbulbs!

 

photo by Olga Belobaba

 

Did you know there’s a very simple way to reduce your cooling bills this summer? Change your light bulbs! If you’re using a traditional incandescent light bulb, you want to change it out for a CFL or LED bulb during the summer. Sure, it uses less wattage to begin with, but it also keeps your room cooler!

How does it do that? Remember the Easy Bake Oven? The oven’s genius was that it used simple small light bulbs to heat the “oven” and bake the cakes. Now, imagine a much larger bulb in your room, running several hours a day. If you’ve got a 100 watt incandescent bulb running in your house, only 10% of the energy it uses is producing light. The other 90% is producing heat! The average 60 watt light bulb can heat a small room five to eleven degrees in just one hour. That means your air conditioning has to work longer and harder to cool that room back down. So you’re not only spending more money to power the light, you’re spending more money to keep the room comfortable too! Incandescent bulbs aren’t the most efficient heaters around, but they’re efficient enough that in some colder climates like Germany and Norway they’re being sold as “heat balls”. The US Green Building Council estimates you’ll save 5% off your cooling bill plus electricity costs for lighting by simply switching out your incandescent bulbs.

How do you know if your bulbs are putting out heat into your room? Here’s a quick test: touch it. If it has been on for longer than five minutes and you can touch it without burning your hands, it is fine. However, if it is too hot to touch, then it is emitting heat into your room. Turn it off or change it out–you’ll feel the difference in both the temperature of the room and in your electricity bill at the end of the month!

 

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