Energy conservation helps reduce lighting costs.
Most people practice some level of energy conservation, if it only means turning off unused lights. People hate paying large energy bills and to a point it makes good sense to conserve energy through various methods. Whereas lighting conservation does save significant energy costs, those costs are less now since the advent of low-cost LED light bulbs. LEDs consume 90 to 93 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs. The LED prices keep dropping and now they are getting to be quite competitive with incandescent bulbs. Whereas CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs used to make sense, I would never recommend them anymore. CFL bulbs no longer offer a cost advantage but the biggest issue is the danger of breakage which releases poisonous mercury liquid and gas.
The older 40 watt equivalent bulb (below left) offers only 500 lumens of light. But the new 100 watt equivalent bulb offers 1600 lumens of light. So the new bulb gives almost four times as much light as the old bulb. However the actual electrical energy drain for the new bulb is only twice as much.
I purchased many earlier 100 watt equivalent bulbs just a year ago. Those bulbs failed early so I replaced them with the new bulbs. They are showing no such problems thus far, so I will report in my future blogs how they do.
Passive solar lighting no longer saves nearly as much energy as heating and cooling conservation measures. Lighting energy conservation can achieve reasonable savings. Try opening shades during the daytime to let natural light in especially in the winter season in south facing rooms.
Solar Tubes provide good energy conservation lighting.
We installed solar tubes in the one long room in our house without any windows. That form of passive solar lighting significantly diminishes the need to ever turn the lights on during the day in that room. The solar tubes have long aluminum large diameters that stretch through the attic from the room ceiling to the roof top. We fully insulated the outside of those tubes with a spray foam insulation. As a result, we hardly feel any draft around the bottom of those solar tubes even when outside temperatures are below zero. Note in the picture below how the two solar tubes compare in brightness to two 300 watt light fixtures.
I stated earlier that LED bulbs are much more competitive with fluorescent bulbs. Lately LED bulbs have become popular replacements for long fluorescent tube bulbs. The LED tubes work in very low temperatures and start almost instantly, unlike the fluorescent bulbs.
Energy conservation should really start with heating loss savings.
Every contractors installs significant amounts of insulation in all the buildings they construct today. Builder supply companies offer a variety of different kinds of insulation, each with cost or efficiency advantages. Seldom do the two advantages come together. The ceilings present the greatest heat loss in most buildings because heat rises. For the same reason, floors offer the lowest heat losses in any building. Walls then offer a medium but still significant amount of heat loss.
Ceiling insulation and caulking should and does get the greatest attention from builders because it offers the best price/energy conservation ratio. We explore this top in detail in another section of this web site.
Wall insulation also warrants good attention from builders. We chose to purchase SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) walls with an R26 total insulation value. The contractors paid special attention to caulking and sealing all SIP joints and the top plates. Those details are also covered in the same section of this web as cited above.
You must caulk and close all penetrations through any walls or ceilings separating the living space from the outside. Sealing the house too tightly can cause problems if you do not offer proper ventilation. Too little ventilation causes condensation and mold problems not to mention health problems for the occupants. For that reason, we installed an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) system to bring in fresh air without losing a ton of heat.
Energy conservation methods employed for heating also work for cooling!
Heat losses take place when high temperature air migrates to lower temperature spaces. Everyone understands this process in the winter months when home inside temperatures are typically much higher than the outside temperatures.
Summer weather patterns can create much higher temperatures outside than those inside a comfortable home. The hot outside air still tries to migrate from the hot outside to the cooler inside. The greater the temperature difference is, the greater the flow of air from outside to inside. Also, the more holes between inside and outside, the greater the heat transfer is.
Better insulation therefore pays energy saving dividends in both winter and summer months. Anything you do to enhance winter comfort and energy efficiency will likewise payoff in lower air conditioning bills in the summer.