When building and designing a home, lighting is one of the most important elements, and the first step is choosing the right bulb.
To tackle this idea, we are going back to basics. This is the first in a series of articles on lighting. Covering everything from lighting tech to room-by-room lighting tips.
Proper lighting is not only desirable in terms of design and safety, but it can also determine the overall efficiency from room to room.
Builders can sell conservation to homebuyers by choosing energy efficient alternatives for their next project.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Energy in January 2012 indicates that the average light bulb in homes uses 47.7 watts and is operated 1.6 hours per day.
And while that may not seem like a lot of wasted energy, take a look at the big picture according to the American Lighting Association (ALA).
“Depending upon location, climate and how the home is heated, that use may range from 12 to 20 percent of a home’s total electric energy use,” says Terry McGowan, director of engineering at ALA.
That means depending on the home’s location, climate and how it’s heated, that use may range from 12 to 20 percent of a home’s total electric energy use.
Bulb Options: Pros and Cons
Incandescent bulbs are compatible with control devices such as dimmers, timers and photo sensors, and they can be used both indoors and outdoors. They are, however, limited in efficiency and color.
According to McGowan, they are the most desired bulb among consumers due to their traditional look. “Incandescent and halogen-incandescent bulbs remain the most popular–about 50 percent of the bulbs in homes according to a 2014 DOE report,” he says.
That being said, it’s best to convince homebuyers that other bulbs are the way to go, as there are more energy efficient options on the market. Incandescent bulbs also have limitations when it comes to technology. For example, they cannot be configured to change color.
“Stricter energy regulations have forced people to move towards more efficient sources including halogens,” says David Peek, director of decorative product development at Progress Lighting.
While slightly more efficient than its 60W incandescent counterpart, a 43W halogen bulb has an annual energy cost of $7.53, compared to $10.51 for incandescents. These bulbs also can’t be configured to change color.
Halogens are popular due to their high Color Rendering Index, which provides crisp, white light for a clean modern look.
CFLs take about 30 seconds to fully turn on, as they require more initial energy than incandescent bulbs.
Once the electricity starts moving, however, CFLs use about 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
A 13W bulb has an annual energy cost of $2.28. Where it really sets itself apart from incandescents and halogens, however, is in its lifespan. A CFL bulb will last approximately 10,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for halogen and incandescents.
The efficiency of CFLs comes at the price of automation and smart home connectivity.
CFLs are not compatible with most photocells, motion sensors and electric timers. They are not ideal for outdoor environments or enclosed fixtures, as they are sensitive to extreme temperatures.
And then there are LED bulbs. They last 10,000 hours and cost about $1.75 a year to operate.
Bill Grande, director of safety products for Leviton, says that the trend is moving toward using LED bulbs in lighting fixtures as the standard.
Grande is right on the growing trend. According to the Department of Energy, LED bulbs make up less than 5 percent of bulbs used in homes, but are growing the fastest.
“Trends indicate that even though consumers are still warming up to the idea of more efficient sources, LEDs will be our primary light source in the future,” predicts Peek.
While an LED bulb is still more than twice the cost of a CFL, prices continue to drop and they are much easier to control.
Builders need to understand their clients’ expectations as well as their market to choose the right bulb for each build. An easy way to accomplish this is to weigh the importance of efficiency versus design.
Stay tuned for our next lighting edition on how fixtures, energy efficiency and design come into play in the TecHome.