Silueta Bilingual Magazine

Silueta Bilingual Magazine

The Light Bulbs That Pay You!

By Don Kulha

What if you could buy a light bulb that paid you to use it, cut down on pollution of our environment and lasted many times longer? It sounds appealing doesn't it? Well, no one is actually going to reach out and put money in your hand but if you'd rathe r keep your money than pay it to the power company read on.

The incandescent light bulb has been a mainstay of society for many years. That round glass bulb containing two posts with a wire filament between them is in use in millions of homes and businesses. They are cheap, plentiful, fairly reliable and, unfor tunately, horrible energy wasters. fluorescent lighting has been long known to be more efficient but hasn't been popular in homes. A new type of Fluorescent bulb has hit the market and is becoming popular, the compact Fluorescent.

Compact Fluorescent, or CF bulbs, address many of the problems people have with standard Fluorescent lighting. They screw into standard bulb sockets so special fixtures and wiring are not necessary. The better CF's have a good color balance and don't p ut out the cold "blue" light common to Fluorescent tubes. The visible "flicker" of common Fluorescent lights has also been eliminated by built-in high frequency transformers. The modern breed of CF's have eliminated these complaints with while retaining h igh energy efficiency flourescents are known for. An addition benefit and savings result from their long lifespan; usually 10,000 hours of more. You would have replaced 13 of the 750 hour rated incandescent bulbs or 10 of the 1000 hour bulbs before you wo uld have to replace the average CF bulb. Where CF's really shine (pun intended) is in energy savings. Compared to an incandescent bulb of equal light output they only use one-quarter as much electricity. A CF bulb using 18 watts of electricity has virtual ly the same light output as a 75w incandescent bulb. This is a savings of 57 watts for every hour of operation and adds up to huge energy savings over the lifespan of the bulb.

Energy savings equal dollars in your pocket not paid to an electric company. Over the 10,000 hour lifespan of an 18 watt CF bulb you would save 57 watts of energy for every hour used compared to a 75 watt incandescent bulb. This amounts to 570,000 watt s or 570 kilowatt hours. At a cost of 12 cents per kilowatt hour this is a savings of over $68 in energy costs alone. Add to this the cost of 10 incandescent bulbs you would not have bought and burned out (let alone your time and bother to replace them) and you have a savings of $73 by using just one CF bulb. All this efficiency doesn't come cheap, most CF bulbs cost between $15 and $20 each. In my area I find them priced from $10 to $20 each (some with rebates which make the price even lower). Based on a cost of $20 each and the example above your savings for each CF bulb used will still amount to over $50. Not a bad return on your investment for just screwing in and using a lightbulb!

CF's also have their shortcomings. Some do not stand up well to use in freezing temperatures, in very hot locations (like over a stove), and in commonly humid locations (like bathrooms with showers). The ballasts built into CF bulbs are rated for a cer tain number of "start cycles" so they should be used where they are left on for an hour or more and not where they are turned on for just a few minutes. It would be more cost effective to use incandescent bulbs in closets and places where you only use a l ight for a few minutes. Perhaps the largest objection many people have with CF bulbs their price. It can be difficult to believe that buying a light bulb costing $15 will save you money compared to one that cost 50 cents or less but as you can see the rea l cost of using a light bulb is the energy it consumes, not what you pay for the bulb.

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