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Switching Lights

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In recent years energy use for our household lighting has rapidly increased. This is largely due to the construction of more spacious homes and the installation of more light fittings per property. According to Living Greener, the federal government’s website on sustainable living, most households could reduce the amount of energy they use for lighting by 50% or more by making smarter lighting choices and moving to more advanced technologies.

In Australia traditional but inefficient types of lighting (incandescent) are being phased out. There are other more efficient types of lighting available, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs).

The older style pear-shaped incandescent globes have been the common type of lighting for many years. They work by heating an electric element until it is white hot and gives off light. Almost all the energy is converted into heat, with only a little being converted into light making them the least efficient type of lighting. Incandescent globes will be phased out in stages over the next few years. A ban on importing them already exists.

Halogen globes are a type of incandescent lamp most commonly used as down lights. They are often mistaken as energy-efficient due to being low voltage lights—12 volt rather than the standard household 240 volt. However, lower globe voltage doesn’t mean more efficient to run or cost effective. You need to choose low wattage globes to make the biggest savings.

Halogens use an average of around 50 watts and use somewhere between 4 to 20 times as much energy as the compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) alternatives. They also require special wiring and fittings and several halogen lights are often needed in the place of one incandescent or fluorescent light. At the moment halogen globes are still available, but the least energy-efficient ones will also be phased out over time.

LED lighting is another energy-efficient option for replacing down lights. Their main advantage is their very long life—up to 50 times as long as an incandescent bulb. They can also be manufactured in sheets or strips. The main barrier for widespread adoption is cost and slightly lower light output, but as the technology continues to improve and demand goes up, the cost is coming down.

(Information for this article was sourced from the Living Greener website – www.livinggreener.com.au)

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