In recent times, modern families are thinking of new money saving strategies to help with the increase cost of living. Some families have started gardening, using programmable home thermostats, spending more time at home instead of going out, and even upgrading basic household goods for energy saving options. Unfortunately, many energy saving products are much more expensive to purchase. As a result, people wonder if the long term benefits are actually worth the initial investment.

A common energy saving consideration involves exchanging the standard incandescent lamp (standard lightbulb) with a more efficient compact fluorescent light source. The initial cost of a compact fluorescent is much higher than that of a traditional incandescent lamp.The lifespan of the incandescent lamp, however, is about one tenth of a compact florescent. Therefore, ten incandescent lamps would be required to luminate the same room over the lifespan of a single CFL. A CFL will light a space for 10,000 hours while an incandescent will only last 1,000 hours. (Energy Star)

The use of CFLs will result in lower energy costs than the standard incandescent. The standard incandescent uses 60 watts of energy to produce 900 lumens, where a CFL uses only 13 watts to produce 900 lumens. (A lumen is a measure of the amount of light emitted by a light source(Architectural Lighting Design)) The amount of light is the same, but the amount of energy used to create the same amount of light is about 4.5 times different. 13 watts verse 60 watts with an average energy bill of 12c per kWh can make a considerable difference on energy bills.

Beyond the household savings, the use of CFLs and incandescent lamps also have a large environmental impact. By using less energy, today’s generation is beginning to make necessary reductions for future uses. Moreover, “compact fluorescent lamps are so much more efficient than incandescent lamps that over their lifetime of operations, they will be responsible for the release of about 75 percent less mercury than their incandescent counterparts”(Architectural Lighting Design). Using CFLs over incandescent lamps not only lowers the cost of lighting a space but also positively impacts the environment.

Some individuals prefer the color rendering of an incandescent light source over a fluorescent. CFLs are sometimes “perceived by most folks as (to) wash out skin tones and warm tones” (Architectural Lighting Design). An incandescent lamp produces a yellowish light that produces softer tones and increases warm colors. This results in a sort of “cozy” light. Incandescent light, however, is typically a cooler light source that might make things look less appealing. Often, as long as a room uses the same lighting throughout a space, the differences go unnoticed. Regardless of personal preference, people quickly adjust to the small variances in color renderings once the space is changed one way or the other.

Overall, the benefits of spending a little extra money on CFLs at the beginning are outweighed by the savings over the lamps lifetime. By changing the standard incandescent lamps throughout a house to a standard CFL, families can save quite a bit of time (by not changing the lamps as often) as well as saving some money on their monthly lighting expenses.

Samantha Smigelski
Contributing Author

Samantha Smigelski is a writing and architectural contributor, and also an Intermediate Technical Designer.