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Lighting Seattle since 1905 Jorge Carrasco, Superintendent
Seattle City Light Conservation | Tip of the Day

Tip 6 - Got a Light?
Americans buy 2.2 million light bulbs every day. We flick a light switch dozens of times a day without thinking, but it's time to give it some thought. According to the World Resources Institute, lighting accounts for about 20 percent of all the electricity used in the United States (5 percent residential, 15 percent commercial), and 10 percent of all the emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas. So it's important to conserve energy by lighting right.
  • Are long-life incandescent bulbs better for the environment? No. They're actually less efficient than regular bulbs and can easily cost more in extra energy than they save on replacement bulbs.
  • It's a trick. "Energy-saving" incandescent bulbs usually save energy simply because they emit less light than their regular counterparts. Check out the lumens rating on the package for actual lighting levels.
  • Dust on a light bulb or dirt on a glass fixture can reduce the light it emits by 10 percent and make it seem that you need a higher-wattage light.
  • Even the paint color you choose can affect your energy use. A white wall reflects 80 percent of the light that hits it; a black one reflects only 10 percent. The more light the walls reflect, the greater the chance that the light can be recycled by striking the wall, bouncing off and still illuminating the room.
  • Opening curtains during the day will save lighting energy. Direct sunlight is 100 times brighter than the light from a strong reading lamp.
  • It used to be a good idea to leave fluorescent lights on if you were just going to be out of a room for a few minutes. But new fluorescents are long-lasting, even when switched on and off frequently.
  • When you leave a room, turn off the lights. Some believe it takes more energy to turn a light back on than it does to leave it on, but that's not true.
  • Use only as much wattage as you need.Why waste energy with extra light? If you think you can use a lower-wattage bulb, try it.
  • Dust the bulbs and remove the dead moths from the fixture before trying a higher-watt bulb.
  • Use fewer bulbs in multibulb fixtures. Most users don't realize that one strong bulb is more efficient than several weaker ones. For example: A single 100-watt bulb uses the same amount of energy as four 25-watt bulbs, but emits about twice as much light. And it uses less energy than two 60-watt bulbs, but yields approximately the same light. Note: For safety's sake, insert a burned-out bulb in any empty sockets.
  • If any home lights are frequently left on when they shouldn't be -- in the garage or basement, for instance -- you can install a timer to shut them off automatically. The light timer plugs into the wall and the lamp plugs into the timer.
  • Light timers are available at most hardware stores. If you're a competent do-it-yourselfer, you can install it easily.
  • You can install dimmer switches wherever you only need bright light occasionally. If it's an energy-saving dimmer switch (check it out when you buy it), you'll have the option of using less energy on lighting at other times.
SOURCES Home Lighting, Sunset Books, Lane Publishing Company, Menlo Park CA 94025. Though written before many of the latest improvements in lighting efficiency, this book offers great tips on choosing and using efficient lights.

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