Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pull the plug on your utility bill

Are the lights in your office building on, but as the saying goes, nobody’s home?

Take a drive around town at 8pm and you will see an awful lot of buildings, public and otherwise, with empty parking lots but lights burning on the inside.

I understand that lighting is such an important part of our everyday existence.

They are critical in allowing architects to be able to design spaces of various complexities and size.

Lights are necessary for us to be able to complete tasks and they are important for safety. A properly lit space allows you to see where you are going, thus reducing the chance of trips and falls. They are an increasingly important security and design feature.

With all these great benefits, it’s fairly easy to get carried away with the number and types of lighting available to beautify your home or office building

There was a time when it was standard to place one light fixture in the center of the ceiling of a room; but today, typical rooms in modern homes may still have that central light, and in addition several down lights used for added effect, wall sconces and even spot lights to provide focus on prized artwork.

If that were not enough, homes and offices are also being designed with numerous down lights around the boxing of the roof, added to this are general security lights around the property, landscape lighting, step lights and the list goes on.

All of this comes at great cost.

Not only is there the up-front expense of the light fixture, there’s also the cost for the electrician to install all these lights, then bulbs are required, lights need to be maintained and of course you need to pay the utility for using all this task, security and decorative lighting.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to Energy Efficient Lighting, issued in October 2010, lighting costs represent 15 percent of the electricity consumption of the average household.

The Fitchner report titled,” Promoting Sustainable Energy in The Bahamas”, dated September 2010, evidences a similar trend for the Bahamas in that a “normal” Bahamian home may use as much as 14 percent of its electricity on lighting.

According to the same report, this number is 29 percent for small public buildings. Therefore, for a medium-sized business with an electricity bill of around $1,000 per month, $290 may be spent on lighting.

The question is - how much is spent on lighting rooms that are unoccupied for extended periods, and even overnight?

Surely these numbers can be improved on - and in some cases, significantly so.

For zero investment you can set up a “Green Team” for your building, charged with educating staff on the importance of conserving energy and how this impacts the bottom line. A staff member can be assigned to ensure lights are switched off at the end of the work day. The trade off may be you give this person another job title, place their photo on the wall of fame and the designated parking space is optional. But you get my point.

An investment in occupancy sensors that automatically switch off lights when rooms are vacant may be cost effective depending on the amount of your bills.

Besides simply switching lights off when not in use, you can ensure that you take advantage of natural lighting as much as possible and make good use of energy-efficient bulbs. To the latter point, ensure that bulbs have an energy star rating, as all bulbs are not created equal. Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. Ensure that your light controls correspond with your use. One switch should not control one large space when multiple switches would provide the option of only turning on the lights you need at the time.

Ask yourself if you really need all those lights. Get an independent assessment of your lighting needs and see if there are some lights you can leave off, eliminate or illuminate more effectively.


Ensure that security lighting has functioning dusk to dawn controls and fit some of your security lights with motions sensors. The use of motion sensors means the lights only turn on if movement on the exterior of the property is detected. The lights thus controlled would only turn on when required and would not stay on all night.

Keep yourself informed, and remember - you have more control of your utility bills than you think.

Challenge for this week: Use the tips above to assess if your lighting needs are adequate or if you are wasting money.


source: The Nassau Guardian



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Phillipsburg police blotter: light bulb theft

  • A home in the 100 block of Mercer Street was burglarized Friday, police said, but it appears only random light bulbs were stolen.
The victim told authorities someone must have entered his home between 8 a.m. and 5:40 p.m. Police said there were signs of forced entry.


source: Lehighvalleylive.com


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Light Bulb Ban Forces Remodeling of Easy Bake Oven

The federal government’s ban on the incandescent light bulb impacts even the most unexpected items, including the Easy Bake Oven, made by Hasbro, with which many young American girls play. The famous toy, first introduced in 1963, once relied on a heated bulb to bake miniature treats. However, the compact fluorescents, which are becoming the new standard for household use, are so energy efficient that they would be incapable of baking a brownie or any other baked good. Therefore, the makers of the Easy Bake Oven have had to reform the product so as to not necessitate a light bulb.

The Blaze reports:

Initially, news of the death of the 100-watt bulb prompted rumors that the Easy-Bake might be going the same way. Instead, the toy got its 11th redesign, at the heart of which is a new heating element much like that of a traditional oven.

Hasbro touts some benefits of the forced redesign, such as the physical makeover of the product that the company believes gives the product a more realistic look.

“This gave us a reason to do it completely differently,” said Michelle Paolino, vice president of strategy and marketing at Hasbro. “We wanted it to look more like a real appliance, not a plastic toy.”

The product is geared to appeal to girls between the ages of 8 and 12. It allows players to mix a variety of items and baked them in the oven. The new model allows the oven to reach approximately 375 degrees, while the outside of the oven is just warm to the touch.

Predictably, however, the new model of the oven is now $49.99, a significant increase from the last model’s cost of $29.99, confirming once more that the move away from incandescent light bulbs will be a costly one.

The ban of the incandescent light bulb was signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the 2007 energy act that was passed to require efficiency upgrades in incandescent light bulbs, which remained relatively unchanged since the invention of the light bulb in 1879.

Congressional Republicans have been staunch opponents to the standards, asserting that they are a symbol of an overreaching federal government. Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton said of the ban, “The unanticipated consequence of the ’07 act — Washington-mandated layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession — is one of many examples of what happens when politicians and activists think they know better than consumers and workers. From the health insurance you’re allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy, Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to people who work for their own paychecks and earn their own living.”

Proponents of the ban have pushed for the use of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) instead, seemingly ignoring the various problems associated with the CFLs. The New American’s of those problems: Daniel Sayani wrote

CFLs have powerful radiation-emitting electromagnetic fields which expose people to "dirty electricity," which can lead to a fivefold increase in cancer; furthermore, because they are composed of mercury vapor, broken CFLs can be deadly, as users are exposed to possible mercury poisoning. In addition, the bulbs have been linked to severe neurological damage, as they can result in migraine and epilepsy attacks.

Other alternatives to the incandescent light bulb, such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and the Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have proven to either have problems with mass production (OLEDs) or are absurdly expensive (LEDs).

A number of Congressiona effors to repeal the incandescent light bulb ban have been launched, though there has been no real success thus far.


Source: The NewAmerican



Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Buy CFL Bulbs

You've probably heard that newer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last longer and use far less electricity than the traditional incandescent bulbs. In fact, swapping out older light bulbs for these newer versions can go a long way towards reducing your electricity bill.

However, you may not realize that even among CFLs, as well as light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, there are many different kinds to choose from. In other words a bulb is not a bulb is not a bulb.

Currently, the most popular type of this bulb for Americans to buy is the 60-watt equivalent of the old-fashioned light bulb—the incandescent bulb. And Consumer Reports recently did a ratings test on both CFL and LED bulbs, and here's what that test found:

  • CFLs save money faster due to their low cost. It usually takes less than a year to recoup the cost of most CFLs.

  • LEDs can take four to 10 years to pay for themselves due to the high cost of the bulb.

  • To find the bulb that will give you the brightness you require, look at lumens. Watts tell only energy use, lumens measure brightness. In spiral bulbs look for the following
At least 450 lumens if replacing a 40-watt bulb

800 lumens or more for a 60-watt bulb

1,100 lumens for a 75-watt bulb

1,600 lumens or higher when replacing a 100-watt bulb.

  • In floodlights look for a lumen count that is at least 10 times the wattage of the incadescent bulb it is replacing.

  • Brightness and color are two totally separate elements when it comes to CFL and LED bulbs. Bulbs that mimic bright sunshine have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 100. (The CRI range goes from 0 to 100.) Consumer Reports found that most of the tested bulbs are in the low 80s, and a bulb with at least an 80 CRI is best for use indoors.

  • Check for rebates and coupons. Visit Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency or The Energy Star website to find utility rebates and search online for manufacturer rebates and coupons.

  • Keep your receipts. These newer bulbs are supposed to be long-lasting—for up to for years. If they don't last that long, you'll want to have saved your receipts and UPC codes, which you will need to return a bulb to the manufacturer or retailer. Sure, this requires a bit of organizing but it's worth it to get your money back for a bulb that doesn't live up to its promised lifespan.

Finally, because CFL bulbs contain mercury, they should always be recycled—not thrown in the trash. Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe's, and some ACE Hardware stores will accept used bulbs. Follow cleanup tips from the Environmental Protection Agency if you happen to break a CFL bulb.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Consumer Reports puts LED light bulbs to the test

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) - In January, it will be out with the old and in with the new, more energy-efficient light bulbs.

New federal regulations will begin phasing out standard incandescent bulbs, but already, there are several alternatives cropping up.

Consumer Reports tested one of the newest options - LED.

LED bulbs are very expensive - anywhere from $17 for a table lamp bulb to more than $60 for a floodlight.

"Even with an LED's high cost, you can still save $100 or more over its life compared to a standard incandescent," said Consumer Reports' Bob Markovich.

LEDs are also similar in color to incandescent bulbs, but they last much longer. One light Consumer Reports tested had been burning continuously for nearly 9,000 hours. Incandescent bulbs only last for 1,000 to 2,000 hours.

"LEDs have some distinct advantages over CFLs. They reach full brightness instantly, and some are also better at dimming," Markovich said.

But, not all LEDs are good at distributing light, including the Sylvania 60-watt Ultra LED, which testers said shone most of its light up towards the ceiling.

Far better for table or floor lamps, was the $40 Philips Ambient. It's the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb and claims to last almost 23 years.

And for outdoor floodlights, you may try the EcoSmart Par 38 for $45. It promises to last even longer.

If you replace an incandescent bulb with an LED, Consumer Reports says it will take four to 10 years before you recoup the costs and start saving. CFLs cost much less and will save you money much sooner.

Copyright 2011 WGCL-TV. All rights reserved.

Source of article: CBS Atlanta

Friday, September 2, 2011

Light Bulbs - The Best Light Bulbs Deals On The Market


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Designing a lighting system does not to be complicated, and often in the world of stage lighting less is more. Less is more is even more true when in addition to being of the best quality, you need your stage lighting system to be mobile. This article will aim at providing advice on how to assemble a reliable, easy to use, and mobile lighting system. Before you can decide much, you have to decide what your lighting will hang from. In order to decide whether you need a tripod stand or a truss system you will need to figure out how many and what size PAR cans, ellipsoidals, pin spots, lighting effects, etc. you require for your venue. Tripod stands typically come in 9-ft or 10-ft spans with a 30lbs and 100lbs maximum weight load respectively. If your lighting needs exceed the limitations of these stands, then a truss system is most likely for you. In addition to being to bear more weight, trusses come with the added benefit of being able to fly lightweight speakers. Truss systems come in non-crank or crank-up versions. They typically have 10-ft spans with maximum loads of 200lbs to 300lbs. The truss systems themselves weigh around 85lbs.

Once you decide whether you need a stand or a truss, you’ll need to decide what kind of PAR cans or other types of fixtures you want and need. The heart of your lighting system will be a combination of PAR cans and/or ellipsoidal lights. For your par cans you will need to select a par can size and bulb and choose an appropriate beam type and wattage for your specific space. LED par cans should be seriously considered for your mobile lighting set up. Their energy efficiency will reduce the amount you need. Furthermore, LED par cans have on board dimmers, lighting effects, and color changing abilities which will cut down on the number of dimmer packs, gels and other hardware you would otherwise need. Don’t forget about LED and traditional lighting effects, they are extremely useful if you are using your system in order to supplement a DJ setup.

The next question is how you’ll dim and control your system. Portable dimmer packs, like those made by Optima, feature an easy to use LCD display and will enable you to control your lighting. You will also need a controller. Controllers can be extremely complex and deserve an article unto themselves, luckily we have one on our blog (see “Taking Control of Your Lighting System”). You’ll want to choose a controller that has controls that will be intuitive and easy to use by the light operator, whether that means selecting a controller that uses primarily sliders or a more computer-like interface. Also, don’t forget that LED PAR cans don’t require dimmer packs.

Lastly, don’t forget about replacement bulbs and gels if you’re PARs or other fixtures are not LED. It’s better to have extra supplies on hand incase of premature bulb or gel failure. Make sure that your incandescent, halogen, or metal halide PAR bulbs are the correct wattage, color temperature, and beam angle for your needs.

Hopefully this article was informative and has got your gears turning on how to put together a simple, effective, and portable lighting system. In addition to our stage lighting products, make sure you check our automotive lighting, medical & scientific, MR16, and CFL products. Check out our website now and start saving!