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Green Lighting 101: Your Guide to Energy Efficient Interior Lighting
Compact Fluorescents or CFLs
Compact fluorescents boast many improvements over standard incandescent light bulbs, and they have now become the industry standard. Fluorescents, and more specifically compact fluorescents, use spiral glass chambers filled with gas and ballasts. Typically these bulbs use about a third or less of the energy that an incandescent uses — a 23 watt CFL can produce about 100 watts of light and runs much cooler while turned on. The bulbs also come in variety of shapes and sizes, and some even come mercury-free.
The greatest hiccup to the CFL’s popularity has been issues related to color and warm up time. However, technological improvements have given way to CFLs that emit a much more pleasing color, ranging from daylight to cool whites. Moreover, the new technology driving the starters allows the bulbs to instantaneously reach between 50-60% power at “on”, and reach 100% within a minute. Currently the biggest obstruction to complete adoption of CFLs is the fact that they are hard to dim, or rather, that the bulbs or systems that can dim are slightly more expensive than the standard ones.
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are vastly superior to CFLs in terms of efficiency, dimming, and lumen output. An LED is a semiconductor light source; when a light-emitting diode is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. The resulting color of the light corresponds to the energy of the photon, producing an effect called electroluminescence.
LEDs have been the go-to solution for task lighting for some time now, but they are slowly showing promise as incandescent replacements. Improved technology has given way to more ambient LEDs, and these bulbs are extremely energy-efficient — You can now replace your standard 60-watt incandescent bulb with an LED bulb that uses only 12.5 watts of energy and will last a whole lot longer. LED lights use only 10-20% of the electricity needed for the equivalent light in incandescents, and they last about 50 times longer. Due to their unique design, LEDs dim beautifully, emit hardly any heat, and are cool to the touch.
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