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Practical NY Energy Tips - Lighting

01 November 2004

While your broker may well have exaggerated the benefits of your 300 square foot apartment, one thing he probably didn’t mention was how the limited space and dense population is conducive to an environmentally friendly lifestyle. There’s much less room to heat, light and cool!

This is the first in a series of articles with practical tips on how you can decrease your dependency on fossil fuels which in turn reduces air pollution, green house gas emissions and reduces your bills at the same time.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) have come of age. They are now work pretty much as direct replacements for the standard (incandescent) light bulbs, with 1 or 2 caveats. You should use them anywhere you regularly have the light on for more than an hour or so a day.
Living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Your landlord should be using them for hallways and porches too.

CFLs use approximately one quarter of the energy of a regular bulb. Eg/ A replacement for a 75 Watt bulb uses 20 Watts. This works out to be a saving of about a dollar a month per bulb replaced (Obviously depends on how much you pay for electricity and how long you leave the light on.).

They’re affordable. Regular, spiral CFL bulbs cost $8 at Home Depot (40 West 23rd Street) and only $2-4 each on In any case, the higher initial price shouldn’t put you off as overall you save money compared to regular bulbs.

The new spiral shape (Usually 2" diameter and 5.5" long) fits pretty much anywhere an incandescent goes. They’re recommended not to be used in enclosed fittings but in my experience they work OK. I didn’t tighten up the enclosure too much to allow some air to circulate. Don’t mix CFLs and regular bulbs in an enclosure or they will get too hot!

Older CFLs had a nasty white colour like the traditional fluorescent strip lighting. Newer CFLs are available in the same colour as traditional incandescents. Look for the description ‘Warm White’. CFL colour is also expressed as a number. 2700K and 3100K both indicate a light similar to regular bulbs.

One thing to remember with CFLs is you can’t usually use them on lights with dimmer switches. There are some special dimmable CFLs available however they are more expensive and, so I've heard, dont dim that well.
3-way switches are OK (You just wont get 3 levels of brightness, just on and off).

CFLs can help you save money and reduce pollution but remember no matter how efficient they are, nothing is as efficient as turning off lights when they’re not in use!


Analyze your home energy use:
Good home energy saving tips:
Green Home NYC:
Good CFL advice:
Good CFL Background:
CFLs and mercury: from

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