High Efficiency Lighting and Appliances

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting and appliances together can account for as much as 25% of the energy used in a typical home. There are simple and cost effective ways to reduce this energy use.
Energy efficient lighting is referred to as “High-efficacy” lighting. High-efficacy means that a larger portion of the energy consumed by the fixture goes out as light rather than heat. The incandescent and halogen bulbs typical in most houses are very low-efficacy. Compact Fluorescent (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the most common high-efficacy light bulbs available for residential use. Looking for the Energy Star logo is an easy way to look for a high-efficacy bulb.

According to Energy Star, a qualified light bulb:
  • Can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime
  • Uses about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts at least 6 times longer
  • Produces about 75% less heat, so it's safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling
Energy Star Approved Light Bulb
Bulb Replacement
There are CFL and LED replacement bulbs that will fit in the place of a standard incandescent bulb. These bulbs are a simple way to reduce energy use at home. There are also new light fixtures designed specifically to take CFLs and LEDs that will not hold an incandescent bulb at all. LED technology is rapidly evolving and prices continue to come down. CFLs are the more common and established option.

Things to Consider About Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Special Functions
Some CFLs are compatible with dimmers, 3-way lamps, motion sensors, photocells or timers but most are not. If you need these features make sure the lamp you purchase indicates compatibility.

CFL Bulb Improvements
In the past, CFL bulbs have had a reputation for poor quality of light, such as flickering, a delay after being switched on, and greenish or bluish light, as well as creating a buzzing sound. The technology has improved tremendously. Here are some things to consider when selecting a bulb to ensure that you do not encounter any of these issues:
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI): The higher the number the more natural the light will look. Energy Star qualified bulbs are required to have CRI of 80 or greater, but this is just a starting point. Aim for at least 85.
  • Color Temperature: There are 6 standard Color Temperatures, measured in degrees Kelvin. The range is from 2700K to 6000K. The lower the number the warmer the light; and the higher the number the bluer the light. Warmer light in the 3000K range typically flatters most people, although a warmer or cooler color may be preferable for different applications.
  • Ballast type (CFLs only): Look for a rapid-start electronic ballast. Magnetic ballasts buzz and hum loudly.
  • Recycling: CFLs contain small amounts of Mercury, and should be disposed of properly or recycled. Locally, they can be recycled at the Westpark Recycling center at 5900 Westpark near Fountainview in Houston, or at any Home Depot or Ikea.
Additional Information
The following resources can provide additional information:

Energy Star offers several suggestions for saving energy costs without replacing your existing appliances.

Washer: You can save energy costs by washing clothes in cold water whenever possible. The majority of the energy used by this appliance goes toward heating water. Cold-water detergents are available, which may make this more practical than it would have been in the past.

Dryer: Keeping your lint trap clean and not over-drying your clothes will help keep your clothes dryer operating as efficiently as possible. Energy Star offers this tip: Dry similar fabric types together so that all of the clothes dry at the same rate.

Dishwasher: Hand-rinsing uses more water than the rinse cycle on the dish washer, so don’t pre-rinse your dirty dishes. You can save energy by running the machine only when full, and by avoiding the drying cycle.

Water Heaters: Water heaters are major consumers of energy, particularly electric units. Hot water pipes need to be properly insulated. The latest trend in water heaters is the "tankless" type. They are more efficient and require less maintenance, last much longer and you never run out of hot water. They are more expensive but worth investigating for convenience and economy.

When it is time to replace your appliances, check with your retailer about recycling your old ones.
Additional Resources
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Appliances
Efficient Products