Out here in the west, we take our energy conservation pretty seriously. Energy reduction in lighting is something we’re ALL concerned about, and compact fluorescent replacement bulbs, used in the right way, make great sense to save energy. There are a lot of great places for compact fluorescent replacement bulbs, but most of them don’t dim without flickering, can have inconsistent color, and – let’s face it – don’t give us that warm, romantic light we love about incandescents.
What in your house has an on-off switch without settings or options? Your washer has cycles; your hair dryer has heat settings; your fans go in two directions. But your lighting? Well, that’s another story. Of the 37 wall switches in the average American house, only 2.7 of them are dimmers.
Dimming incandescent bulbs is a great way to save energy in your home without putting compact fluorescent replacement bulbs in all your light fixtures.
Did you know that if you dim a bulb by 10%, you use 10% less electricity and double the bulb life? If you dim a bulb by 25%, you use 20% less electricity and quadruple the life. And if you dim a bulb by 50%, you use 40% less electricity and increase the bulb life twentyfold. How does this work? Simple! Dimming reduces the amount of heat on the bulb’s filament, which helps it last longer. You can calculate energy savings by dimming here.
Replacing a standard on-off wall switch with a dimmer is a simple exercise that someone with average skills can do. There are plenty of options from the original rheostat, or rotary dial wall dimmer, to touch dimmers with LED indicators. By taking on a simple wall switch replacement, you CAN retain that candlelit glow and save energy. Just make sure to dim the lights to the lowest level that works for the way you are using the space, and coach your family or housemates to do the same.
In upcoming columns, we’ll examine how the incandescent bulb is being reinvented to meet new energy standards as well as viable compact fluorescent replacements, and where to use what so that your home remains comfortable and well-lit without depleting resources.