When planning a new lighting layout for your home, it is important to take many different factors into account. Besides simply how bright you want the area to be lit, a savvy homeowner must include other factors such as indoor/outdoor lighting, lumens, wattage, and even environmental impact to choose the correct methods and techniques for your lighting design.
When it comes down to it, it’s all about the bulbs. The bulbs that you choose for your lighting design will have an immense impact on the sustainability and effectiveness of your lighting. There are three major types of replacement light bulbs; incandescent, fluorescent, and LED. The following is a quick rundown of how each bulb type can be utilized to light your home.
Incandescent bulbs are what many people think of when they imagine a basic, residential indoor lighting bulb. The light is generated from heating a filament wire to high temperatures. Typically, incandescent bulbs last fairly long, but the problem with them is that they are costly in the long run. Incandescent bulbs require around 60 watts of electricity to produce light, making it exceptionally expensive when stretched over time. This is far more than any of the other modern options, although an incandescent bulb contains no mercury and is RoHS compliant.
Finally, the biggest downside to an incandescent replacement light bulb is its carbon footprint. Incandescent bulbs typically release around 150 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, far more than any other bulb allows.
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is a great replacement light bulb to phase out incandescent. Typically of a similar (or even cheaper) price, CFLs are great for lighting systems that need to save cost without a heavy investment. CFLs use about a quarter of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb in the long run, and are just as bright for about a third of the cost.
This is not without some hazards however. CFLs contain mercury, which is hazardous to the environment. Though CFLs emit far less carbon dioxide each year compared to incandescent, they must be disposed of responsibly through a special program. Also, CFLs are more sensitive to temperature and weather conditions. They become a heat and fire hazard if in extreme temperatures for too long; so keep that in mind when considering outdoor lighting or landscape lighting use.
Light-emitting diodes (LED) are special bulbs that use a cluster of smaller LED chips to emit waves and color characteristics. LED lighting beats out the competition in just about every sense. They are highly durable, require a tenth of the wattage that incandescent bulbs need, and emit almost zero btu’s of heat while they work. LED lights are environmentally sound, contain no mercury or other harmful materials, and release only about 15 pounds of CO2 a year.
The only downside of LED lights is that they are expensive at first. LED replacement lights involve a considerable investment that essentially updates your entire lighting system. Once the installations are implemented, however, price drops to costing fractions of what other lighting systems cost in energy usage, per year.