Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Understanding Watts & Lumens

We have always been familiar with a lightbulbs wattage. To most of us this signified how bright the bulb was. We could purchase 40w, 60w, 100w and we pretty much knew what kind of bulb we were getting. This however was not strictly true. The wattage of a bulb (or lamp as it is called in the industry) pretty much actually denotes the power consumption of the bulb. A 100w bulb is brighter than a 60W because it uses 40w more power to operate. The 100w did not refer to a particular brightness. The light output of bulbs has always been measured in lumens (though you couldn't tell this as it was never really displayed anywhere on the bulb itself or the box). With the invention of low energy bulbs, the lumen output is now very important.

It can still be very confusing for someone to compare 2 similar bulbs (one being a 50w halogen and the other being a 5w led) and yet both have the same light output. The wattages indicate to us that the 5w bulb uses far less power (and costs you less on your energy bill). What we actually need to compare is the luminosity of both bulbs to determine how similar they are. If the 50w version is 400 lumens and the 5w version is 380 lumens then we know both are very similar in light output.

New regulations now stipulate that manufacturers must indicate a bulbs lumen output on the packaging so next time you go to buy a light bulb, take a moment to compare the lumens from your standard bulb to a low energy equivalent. It may just save you a small fortune on your energy bill.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Can you afford not to consider Low Energy Lighting?

When it comes to low energy lighting there tends to be a couple of reasons to change over to energy efficient products. One is to help the environment. The other is to save some money on your electricity bill. Sometimes it's both but usually one or the other is the driving force behind the change. Lets face it simply changing a few bulbs can have a massive effect on your energy usage. Recently I changed 2 GU10 lamps in my picture lights from standard 50w halogens to 4w LED GU10s. The outlay didn't hurt my wallet too badly and the light output was pretty much the same. This got me thinking about the electrical companies who provide our energy. These companies are businesses and every business thrives for profit. If that company was charging me a set amount to run my picture lights (that totalled 100w) before and now they are charging me for 8w of power then obviously this is a 92% decrease in my power usage and thus what they can charge me for. Now imagine half the people in my street did the same. This has been happening now for quite a few years. As we continue to replace our traditional bulbs with more and more low energy light bulbs the energy companies have been losing more and more turnover & profits. Or have they? It seems to me that when we hear how the energy companies have increased their charges again and how they have made massive profits nobody questions whether these charges have been increased to cover the loss in chargeable power we use. If for example my energy company used to charge me £50 a year to run those picture lights then suddenly i only use enough power to be charged £4, they aren't going to stand for that. The logical thing to do is increase your charges so now those lights cost £10.00 a year to run (which doesn't sound bad however consider you are now paying more for each watt of power you use, therefore they are more profitable). Still doesn't sound bad does it? Well now consider the other half of my street who didn't change any of their lamps to low energy lighting. They're still using their traditional incandescents and halogens. They're using the same energy tariffs as I am only now they like me are paying more for each watt of power they use. And remember they're not using 8w to power they're picture lights but 100w. Imagine what a difference that makes to your bill. Yes helping the environment is a very worthwhile reason to switch. But at a time where things are tight, can you afford not to consider low energy lighting? Can you afford to be left behind?


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