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Green Basics

Lighting and Phantom Loads

Lighting and Phantom Loads Offer Opportunities for Energy SavingsUPDATED 10/21/2011

Look for opportunities to cut consumption

Both lighting and non-appliance plug loads are easy targets for conservation. Lighting accounts for nearly 9% of residential energy consumption. Getting rid of incandescent bulbs, which produce mostly heat, and switching to compact fluorescents or light emitting diodes (LEDs) means instant savings.

Phantom loads represent the current that computers, telephones, entertainment systems and other devices draw even when they are turned off. For the most part, it’s a waste.

The current that keeps these devices in standby mode so they power up quickly may seem like a trickle. But by sheer volume, these electronic gizmos use more power than many homeowners would guess.

It may not be obvious when a device is drawing power on the sly, but there are a couple of easy and effective ways to deal with the problem.

The old bulbs produce more heat than light

Incandescent bulbs are incredibly effective — at generating heat, not light. Only a small portion of the energy they consume produces light. Most is turned into heat which we don’t want in the first place.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use less power to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent, so lower wattage CFLs can be used as replacements. For example, a 75-watt incandescent bulb produces up to 1,100 lumens, the same as a CFL drawing between 18 watts and 25 watts. CFLs that work with dimmers also are available.

Substantial energy savings. Switching from incandescents to CFLs is the single most cost-effective way to save residential energy, reducing power consumption for lighting by 75%.

As a bonus, the bulbs will last much longer. A compact fluorescent costs about six times as much as a conventional bulb but can last up to 10,000 hours (compared to 1,500 hours for the average incandescent). The government says each…

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