Consider Fluorescents

You can cut your energy costs quickly by switching from incandescent bulbs or fixtures to compact fluorescents.

Closets, workrooms, home offices, kid’s rooms, security area, kitchens are excellent areas of the home to convert to compact fluorescent bulbs. Do you have a fixture that will not accept compact fluorescent bulbs? Don’t worry, it’s very easy to replace a bulb or even a fixture that is not fluorescent compatible — it doesn’t require electrical rework of wires.

While incandescent bulbs are inexpensive to buy, they consume more energy than any other type of bulb and have a relatively short life, making operating costs high. Fluorescent lighting is now available in over 200 colors, ranging from the warm white tones of incandescent light to cool white tones similar to daylight. Energy-efficient fluorescents use one-fifth to one-third the electricity of a comparably bright incandescent bulb and last 10-20 times longer.

The amount saved depends on how long a light operates. If you operate a security light from dusk to dawn or 4,000 hours/year and replace the 100 watt incandescent light bulb with a 32 watt compact fluorescent lamp the savings is about $26/year per fixture.

Switch Your Switches

Dimmers allow you to reduce lighting when you don’t need it, which saves both energy and light bulbs. Occupancy sensors turn lights off after you leave the room or shut the closet door — even if you forget.

A reduction of voltage by 10% on a dimmer will double the bulb life and save energy and money. To dim fluorescents, use a special dimming ballast, as well as a dimmer that is compatible with fluorescents.

Move to Motion Detectors

Motion detectors offer another bright idea for snipping the electric bill. Your site still has the needed security, but the light shuts off when not needed.

Light in Layers

Those lighting new homes for the first time might consider a less-is-more approach. Think of your lighting in layers. Begin with the spots where lights are most important — where tasks are performed, like reading. Don’t accent everything in the living room, just important items. This allows a thinning of lights without the house looking dark and will save energy.

Add Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to conserve electricity year-round. They are economical and energy efficient, utilizing about the same energy as a 100 watt light bulb.

Ceiling fans don’t actually lower the temperature of a room like an air conditioner. But by spinning the air, they create a wind chill effect that makes you feel up to eight degrees cooler.

Running a ceiling fan costs about one cent per hour, or pennies/day, vs. the several dollars/day to run an air conditioner. Fans can be used alone or in conjunction with an air conditioner. When a ceiling fan is used with an air conditioner, the thermostat setting can then be raised, resulting in reduced cooling costs of 40% or more.

In the winter, ceiling fans move warm air back to the center of the room, pushing it down from the ceiling and generating savings of as much as 10% on your heating bills. Simply switch the direction of the blades to spin clockwise and turn on the fan.