Here's A Bright Idea!

A blog about lights, and how they can save energy, money and the environment

Turn Out The Lights? Read This Before You Flip The Switch

Posted by adventurelightingblog on February 26, 2010

 

We’ve been told over the years – by our parents, spouses, bosses and even the U.S. Government – to “turn the lights off when you leave the room.” The reasons are simple – turning off lights conserves energy, saves money and prolongs the life of the light. Right?

On or off? Here's a bright idea

Well not always. Believe it or not there are some very good reasons to leave the light on

First, let’s make it clear – if the light is an old-school incandescent, go ahead and turn it off. And leave it off. Forever. Only 10-15% of the energy consumed by incandescents, actually goes towards illumination. The rest is wasted as heat. So the first step is to replace all of your inefficient incandescent bulbs with modern CFL’s (from Adventure Lighting) – a longer lasting, more energy-efficient, better for the environment, better light, period. 

Now to the great fluorescent debate – to turn off or not to turn off? 

Fluorescents, when turned on, are like me when I’m watching an NFL game on Sunday afternoons – they really like to be left alone. CFL’s were designed and built to be energy-efficient and thus, happiest when they’re doing their job, providing light. In general, the more you turn a fluorescent on and off, the more you shorten the life of the lamp. The rule of thumb is, if you’re going to be gone more than 15 minutes, go ahead and turn off the light. If it’s less, leave them on. 

But there are other considerations. 

Fluorescents (and incandescents) require a relatively high “inrush” current when they’re first turned on. The amount of extra electricity required depends on the type of light and the ballast, which provides the initially high voltage needed for igniting the lamp and also regulates the current during the light’s illumination. 

There are three basic types of ballasts and three basic forms of ignition, but we won’t go there. Instead, just remember that the amount of electricity used to “start” a fluorescent is roughly equal to operating the light for around five seconds or so.  It’s similar to the “should I keep my car running or turn it off” question. In other words, every time you turn on a light, it’s taking you five seconds worth of cost to do so.

Our best advice is to keep your car – and your lights – on. 

The last consideration is when you’re operating the lights. Peak times – when energy companies charge the most because the most consumers are using the most electricity – vary from state to state, to country to country.

Wow - glad we don't watch TV in India

For example, in India it’s all peak electrical time – there are no off-peak hours. (Glad we’re not running our 50 inch plasma TV over there.) Here in the U.S., peak or “on-peak” hours generally start in the afternoon and last through the early evening. So if you’re going to turn off your fluorescents, do it during this time – but only if you’ll be gone more than 15 minutes. 

Otherwise, leave those beautifully stingy, energy-sipping wonders of technology on, let them do their job.  They’ll be happy, because they get to light up the room, and so will your smile, because you’ll be happy, too. 

And now we want to make you even happier, by giving you something for free!  

As we’ve talked about in previous posts, your response to “Here’s A Bright Idea” has been amazing – we can’t thank you enough for your comments, calls and shared interest in saving money and the environment. 

To say thank you, we’d like to give you two free CFL’s. No purchase necessary. All you have to do is subscribe to our “Here’s A Bright Idea” blog by email. We’ll then send you an email, telling you how to pick up your two free CFL’s. It’s that easy! 

As an email subscriber you’ll also receive other great offers from Adventure Lighting. So sign up, get your two free CFL’s and other great offers from us at Adventure Lighting – and thank you! And if you have a topic or question you’d like us to address in a future blog post, please let us know!

 

 

Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com 

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3 Responses to “Turn Out The Lights? Read This Before You Flip The Switch”

  1. Wanda Nelson said

    Great Blog, Brian! I enjoyed reading it!

  2. I was curious if you ever considered changing the structure of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two
    images. Maybe you could space it out better?

    • I’ve never really considered it at this point. I guess I would define “content” as actual substance that can help someone understand my points. Pictures can do that, but most of the time it’s just filler. I realize that I can get a bit long-winded, but I think we make a point and move on. Another point I would make is that this isn’t our “actual website”, it’s just a blog. You can check our out actual website at, http://www.adventurelighting.com

      Have a bright day! I know the sun is out and it’s scorching here!

      Brian Huff
      515.288.0444

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