Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lights, camera, action!

If you haven't switched over your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), now is the time. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, one year ago neither did I--but Eric was hot to get the old ones out of our house. Slowly but surely he started doing it covertly and I never even noticed the difference. I had always thought that anything fluorescent = bluish glow = ugly. I am now realizing that not all CFL's are the same. Some are better than others.

The New York Times just ran an article that tested a few of the more popular brands. n:vision by Home Depot, TCP Spring Light/Soft White and MaxLite SpiraMax fared better than most. Still, not all of our lighting is CFL because let's face it, old school light bulbs (called incandescent) put off the best looking light. What I encourage you to do is try out some CFL's here and there and see what you think. You'd be surprised. The cool thing is that they use 70% less energy and last 6 to 10 times longer than old school bulbs....WOW! Of particular note is that there is mercury in CFL's so they shouldn't be put in regular trash. Hmm, not so green afterall, right?Here is a link to where you can "safely" recycle CFL's.

Back to our remodel-- we have the typical 1950's house where everything was done by task lighting so the only ceiling light we have in the whole house is the chandelier. Since we have vaulted ceilings in our main living area, we have decided to use cable system lights to run along our beams. They use halogen lights which is considered a form of incandescent light. Luckily, halogens are more efficient and last longer than the traditional incandescent light bulb. Listed in order are different types of lights available in order of efficiency.
Light-emitting diodes (LED)
What I am taking away from my research is that not all lighting is equal. Try to get the most efficient lighting you can, but understand halogens are probably going to be part of the equation in order to get the type of lighting you need for various areas (kitchen, reading etc.). We are using CFL's in floor lamps, pendants, table lamps and the exterior of the house (along with motion sensors), but are using halogens in our ceiling. I haven't talked about LED's at all because it is hard to find LED lighting for anything other than under kitchen counters or outside lights. If you do find it, it is extremely expensive. Hopefully in the next decade we will have some major breakthroughs in LED lighting.

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