Saving money is something people are interested in doing, especially in these economic times. Furthermore, there is growing concern with energy conservation and finding ways to live more “earth friendly” and green. There are a few simple modifications one can make to their home lighting that will save you money and make you a more “earth friendly” person as well. Installing a dimmer light switch and using led lights, or halogen lights will accomplish both tasks.
Dimmer Light Switches Save Money and Extend Bulb Life
Have you ever noticed that the majority of light bulbs burn-out when you flick on the light switch? That is because the tiny filament within the bulb suddenly receives a burst of electrical current through it. Additionally, when the standard type light switch closes, the contacts inside of the switch actually bounce several times before settling down. Contact bounce effectively turns the light on and off very quickly in a very short time.
When you use a dimmer light switch, the light bulb receives a gradual flow of electrical current, and because the switching is controlled by electronics within the light switch, there is no contact bounce. Surely, you can think of times when the amount of light emanating from your lamp is more than what you need. Think about that mid-night trip to the bathroom. Having a dimly lit room would be easier on your eyes and is less likely to wake you.
A dimmer light switch allows you to adjust the brightness of the light to suite your needs. By setting the dimmer light switch to lower light levels, you will be using less electricity, even though you may be using a 100 watt light bulb. Most dimmer light switches on the market today are capable of dimming lamps up to 650 watts. As long as the total lamp wattage is within the dimmer’s limits, you can use a dimmer to control the lamp’s brightness.
Dimmer Light Switches Come in Many Varieties
Companies like Lutron and Leviton make a variety of dimmers. Gone are the odd looking round-control-knob, and in its place are controls that resemble standard light switches. There some that are lighted, so that the dimmer is easily found in a dark room. Others have a “soft-on/off” feature that gradually increases/decreases the brightness of the lamp, up/down to the brightness set point.
This feature is very handy when exiting a room. Normally, once the switch has been flicked, the room immediately becomes dark. However, with the soft-off feature of the dimmer, the light gradually fades from the brightness set point to off, giving you ample time to exit the room in safety.
Still other dimmers use the “rocker” style switches, and leds that indicate the level of brightness. Most modern dimmers have a means to select a set point so that the next time you turn the lamp on, it will automatically return to the brightness set point.
LED Lights and Halogen Lights Cost Less to use than Standard Light Bulbs
GE (General Electric), Philips, and GE Sylvania all produce quality lines of energy efficient light bulbs. LED lights, halogen lights, and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs all use about one-third the energy of standard light bulbs. Indeed, LED lights and halogen lights are inherently longer lasting; however, when coupled with a dimmer, their life is extended even further.
When purchasing LED lighting, ensure the base style is “Edison type”, and that the lamp is dimmable. Companies like Toshiba and TCP make dimmable LED lighting that will fit standard light sockets.
Unfortunately, most CFL type lights are not dimmable; however, they still use less electricity than standard bulbs, and some places do sell dimmable CFLs. According to GE and Philips, halogen lights are brighter, last longer, and produce light that is “whiter” than standard light bulbs. In fact, a light that uses 43 watts of power will produce light equivalent to a 60 watt light bulb.
LED lights have even better specifications than halogen or CFL. GE states that a 9 watt LED light produces the same amount of light as a 40 watt standard light bulb, and will last up to 25,000 hours of continuous (24/7) use; however, the box puts its typical life expectancy at 22.8 years.
I have personally used dimmers, halogen lights, and CFLs for a number of years, and rarely need to purchase light bulbs. Additionally, since using dimmers and energy efficient lighting, our electric bills are not as high as they were before. My experience with LED lighting is limited, but I am pleased thus far. I intend on installing additional LED lights as soon as possible. Even though energy efficient lighting is more expensive than standard lighting, the money saved on electricity, and on bulb purchases more than makes up for it.
 Treehugger.com, GE “Energy Smart 9w Lightbulb (Product Review), January 31, 2011
 Lighting.Philips.com, Halogen Energy Saver, February 7, 2011