There’s a simple answer, and that is “Yes”. Our mothers and fathers were right when they rowed at us to turn the lights off when we left a room. But the answer is also in the affirmative for those who argued that switching them on again would waste power. But whether that really matters depends on how long you are turning it on or off for.

If you will be turning a light on again in just a few minutes, rather leave it on. But if you’re leaving for longer, the power used in keeping it on will far outweigh the bit used as inrush electricity to light up the bulb. So it’s a no-brainer that popping to the bathroom before settling for the night doesn’t justify switching off the light in the bedroom (provided you come straight back).

But allowing a child to switch a light on and off for the simple and passing pleasure of seeing the light come and go, is going to waste unnecessary power. And it won’t just waste energy, but will also shorten the life of the bulb which rides on the number of times it is turned on and off, as well as on the time it is alight.

How do I know how much energy I’m saving?

How much energy a light bulb uses when the light is switched on, or when it stays on, depends on the type of bulb, its wattage, and how it works. Want to calculate how much energy you are saving? Look at how much energy a particular bulb uses.

A 40W bulb will use 40 watts in an hour. That’s how much you will save every hour by not switching it on – and how much you will waste every hour if it stays on when it’s not necessary. It might seem like a small amount, but that’s just one bulb out of the many. Switch off more lights or a few guzzlers like the 100W fraternity, and see the energy savings increase.

Types of Bulbs: The worst offenders are incandescent lights, and particularly the traditional old bulbs our forefathers used in the dark ages. Many of these have disappeared from shelves. But some of their kinsfolk survive, along with new relatives which, though less of a problem than their predecessors, still tend to use extra power compared with other types of bulb. Incandescent bulbs heat up filaments or elements to generate light, and power is then wasted as unnecessary heat.

The so-called “energy saving” compact fluorescent lights (CFL) show up at the top of the list for being energy friendly. They are, however, being measured against a very crooked stick when compared to those old incandescent bulbs which see only 10 percent of the energy they use turn into light, and 90 percent disappearing as heat.

While compact fluorescents fall into category A or B, incandescents scrape through in categories E and F, below halogen bulbs which occupy the D category. LED lights knock them all to the boundary when it comes to both energy saving and working out whether you can leave them on or not. The answer is that switching them on or off makes no difference to their lifespan or energy consumption.

Want to get LEDs? They’re available at most mainstream Colorado Springs supermarkets and stores. Go and grab some!

Ways to control the light

  • Dimmer switches save energy: This depends on the particular dimmer switch used. With old dimmers the switch did not control the power used, but rather determined how much of it was used as light. The rest was disposed of as heat, and the lower the light emitted, the more electricity was wasted. Newer TRIAC technology does control the amount of power used by turning it on and off at close intervals.

With LED bulbs (which work only with some dimmer switches) the saving is clear and noticeable but with incandescent bulbs, and particularly those really old power guzzlers, it’s better to change the bulb’s wattage than to use a higher wattage and a dimmer switch. The dimmer will give you the same amount of light as the less powerful bulb, but that delivery will be less efficient than if you used the lower wattage bulb in the first place.

  • Use lower energy bulbs where the need is for ambiance rather than precision. This might even replace the need for a dimmer switch.
  • Motion detectors use sensors to switch on lights only when there’s movement. This cuts back the need to leave outside or passage lights on all night so you can see your way late at night.
  • Timers provide a similar service to motion detectors, differing only in that they do not respond to movement, but to a time pattern punched into their controls.

A consultation with an expert electrician in Colorado Springs could lead to resolving your energy saving ideals once and for all. Give him a call to discover more about the advantages of turning off the lights, reducing their operating time, lessening their glare and finding the most efficient way to use the power in your home.

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