Upgrading your lighting can be one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy use. It also can provide one of the quickest paybacks on your investment. Even better, upgrading your lighting can provide even better lighting than you have now. Lower cost, quick return on investment, and high quality lighting – all reasons to make lighting a top priority.

Save $$$ while you’re saving the earth

New York Interfaith Power & Light is participating in the national Shop IPL opportunity to purchase high quality, lower cost energy-saving products. Through this online store, Interfaith Power & Light is partnering with Energy Federation Incorporated (EFI) to offer high-quality, affordable energy-efficient products. Many products are offered with quantity discounts, allowing participating congregations to easily order products at competitive wholesale prices. For more info about this program …

Still have questions? You can call EFI at 800-379-4121.

To purchase products, visit the [intlink id=”39″ type=”page”]Shop IPL website[/intlink]. And NYIPL members can get a 10% discount by entering the discount code “ShopIPL” (no spaces or quotation marks).

Exit signs can use a lot of electricity

Your exit signs fall into the category of lighting since they use bulbs that burn every minute of the year. [intlink id=”99″ type=”post”]Jonesville UMC[/intlink] shows how easy (and profitable) it is to change exit signs.

Compact fluorescent lights

Question: How many people of faith does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but the bulb should be a CFL (compact fluorescent light)!

When selecting CFLs, an easy formula to keep in mind is to remember two words: Watt four? To get an amount of light equivalent to the incandescent bulb you’re replacing, just divide the wattage of the incandescent bulb by 4.

For example…

If you have a 60-watt incandescent bulb (with a brightness of 890 lumens), divide 60 by 4. The result will be the wattage of a CFL that will have the equivalent amount of light. In this example, you would select a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb (60 ÷ 4 = 15). And this shows why you save energy: a 15 Watts CFL gives you the same amount of light as a 60 Watt incandescent bulb! One-fourth the energy bill, one-fourth the power plant pollutants, but the same amount of light!

But you really don’t have to do all these calculations. Lumens are your best guide and they’ll be right on the label.

But do they work as well as a “real” bulb?

Popular Mechanics tested them and found they do! Here are the results of the brands they tested.

As the Energy Star website says:
“CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 5 milligrams, which is roughly equivalent to an amount that would cover the tip of a ball-point pen. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take 100 CFLs to equal that amount. Mercury currently is an essential component of CFLs and is what allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. Many manufacturers have taken significant steps to reduce mercury used in their fluorescent lighting products. In fact, the average amount of mercury in a CFL is anticipated to drop by the end of 2007, thanks to technology advances and a commitment from the members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.”

Currently, low mercury content tubes are more accurately dosed with just enough mercury to last the expected life of the lamp. This means that loss of mercury will take over from failure of the phosphor in some lamps. The failure symptom is similar, except loss of mercury initially causes an extended run-up time (time to reach full light output), and finally causes the lamp to glow a dim pink when the mercury runs out and the argon base gas takes over as the primary discharge. That means most of the mercury is gone, recombined into an inert form by the time a bulb is burned out.

The electric utility industry is our nation’s largest source of mercury emissions. A coal-fired power plant would emit 13.6 mg of mercury – directly into the air – to produce the electricity required to use an incandescent bulb, compared to only 3.3mg for a CFL.

When you reduce your electricity use by using CFLs rather than incandescent bulbs, you’ll be reducing the amount of mercury we’re all exposed to! This is especially important for pregnant women and young children.

For even less mercury…

Until recently, it was not easy to know which bulbs these might be, but this report highlights the lowest mercury bulbs. And you can get them at ShopIPL!

More information

Connect CFLs to your congregation’s spiritual life

Eco-Justice Ministries has developed a resource that can help you use CFLs to move congregants toward deeper levels of commitment and transformation. Sometimes a lightbulb can be more than just a lightbulb!

LED Lights

Why not skip the CFLs and just get LED lights? Here are some reasons from the Energy Federation (EFI), which is associated with ShopIPL.

LED technology has not yet advanced to a point where it is a viable alternative for general lighting because:

  1. The typical amount of light produced per watt of electricity used is generally only 20 lumens per watt, which is better than an incandescent light bulb produces (8 to 17 lumens per watt), but far less than a compact fluorescent (40 to 65 lumens per watt).
  2. The price for good quality light emitting diodes remains extremely expensive. So expensive, in fact, that the LED product may cost more to purchase than the potential electricity savings over the product’s life.
  3. The nature of LEDs is that they are a very directional light. This means that they may be very good in flashlights, signal lights, and other lights that point light in a particular direction, but when these are made to screw into a conventional light socket it is hard to achieve an even distribution of light in all directions.

ENERGY STAR (EPA and DOE’s energy efficient labeling program) is working to establish minimum standards LEDs would need to achieve, and a number of lighting manufacturers are working on this technology. The technology continues to improve, and while it isn’t ready to replace a 60 watt incandescent, there are applications where the technology is ready for market. One example are holiday light strings. The savings associated with replacing incandescent light strings with LEDs is impressive (80% electricity reduction). Check to purchase these.

Halogen lights

Electric bill savings, improved security lighting, and reduced fire hazard – all in one easy swap!

Unfortunately, many small building owners and churches use halogen flood lights for their outdoor signs and exterior lighting. These kinds of floodlights are widely used because they are very inexpensive and easy to find from electricity supply stores and home improvement stores.

The reason these lights are inexpensive is because they use an old technology and can be made very cheaply. Some are constructed overseas from Asian countries.

These lights have a significant downside to users that go beyond the initial low cost:

  • They are expensive to run. A typical halogen floodlight is 200 to 500 watts.
  • They get very hot. The body itself can cause structure fires if placed too close to a soffit or roof. Halogen torchieres (the long stand up living room lights) have in fact been banned from many college dormitories because of the hazards of walls or curtains catching on fire from the lamps.
  • They have minimal glare control; these types of fixtures have simplistic interior reflectors that “blast” light in a general direction. The result is that this lighting can cause deep shadows behind the light, and blind anyone walking towards it.

Easy Solution – metal halide and “pulse start metal halide” floodlights

Metal halide floodlights, and their well established successor, “pulse start” metal halide floodlights, offer significant reductions in electricity costs and fire hazards.

These kinds of outdoor lights provide a direct benefit to building owners and churches in every way:

  • electric bill reduction: they produce the same or increased amount of light for about ¼ the wattage of a comparable halogen light
  • lessened fire hazard: the fixture is much cooler than a halogen light
  • better light control and security: quality manufacturers of metal halide and pulse start metal halide fixtures use “cut off” reflectors. These “cut offs” control the light and direct it more precisely. These fixtures are designed to be aimed downward so that the beam of light is cast outward at an angle. The result is less shadows (i.e. you can see beyond the light source) and much less glare.
  • Quality manufacturing: These fixtures are designed to last a much longer life than halogen fixtures, usually 15 to 20 years or more. Some are manufactured directly in the United States (see information below).

So why do people buy halogen floodlights and use them?

Simply because they’re cheap and readily available. Once people see the cost, safety, and security benefits, though, it’s easy to swap out or avoid halogen lights.

The figure below describes how. This shows the wasted cost of using a 500W halogen floodlight as a nightly security light for one year:

Pulse start metal halide floodlight
Typical initial cost
Light output
(in lumens)
Cost per kilowatt
Operating hours
Operating Cost
Cost breaks even in two years!
Savings every year after that:

As shown here, a replacement 175 watt metal halide fixture produces more light at significantly lower cost.