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Published on
June 30th, 2020

Energy Saving Tips for Apartments: Replacing Old Light Bulbs with the Most Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

If you own or manage an apartment building in New York City, lighting in public spaces falls under your responsibility. Did you know you can save money and help your building conserve energy by a simple measure like swapping out the light bulbs in your fixtures? Here are some tips for replacing old light bulbs along with information about the most energy-efficient light bulbs you should be using.

What Are Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs?

Energy-efficient light bulbs are exactly what they sound like. They use less energy than older bulbs, which are rapidly disappearing from the market in many locales. Using old incandescent bulbs turns about 90 percent of the energy used into heat. If you’ve ever accidentally touched an incandescent bulb that’s been on for a while, you’ll know exactly how much heat is lost.

Any time you are losing heat like this, however, you’re losing money. This is because it takes a lot of energy to produce that heat. The US Department of Energy estimates that the average household spends about 5 percent of its budget for energy on lighting. Therefore, the savings with energy-efficient bulbs can be considerable.

If you are using hundreds of bulbs in your building, such as in hallways, stairwells, entrances, and utility areas, you could be saving even more money than a typical residence. And of course, saving energy is beneficial to the city and to the planet overall, as there is frequently an environmental cost to creating all that electrical energy.

Old versus new bulbs

New energy-efficient bulbs remain cooler and therefore aren’t subject to the energy loss of old incandescent bulbs. You’ll still be able to get a variety of colors and sizes in new energy-efficient bulbs. And while they may cost more upfront, the long-term savings are worth it.

Initially, halogen incandescent bulbs were an early replacement for old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. They are more efficient and meet the minimum federal energy standards implemented since 2012. But there are now even better choices, as described below.

What Are the Most Energy Efficient Light Bulbs?

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

This type of energy-efficient bulb is a version of the long fluorescent tubes that many of us are familiar with. While early CFL bulbs were not available in the warm white tones that consumers desired, that has changed. This type of bulb now produces a flattering, attractive light similar to old incandescent bulbs. CFL bulbs’ features include the following:

  • Come in curly styles or with a covering to look like traditional bulbs and produce more diffuse light
  • Available in Energy Star certified models
  • Use one-fourth of the energy of an incandescent bulb
  • Produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb
  • Last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb
  • Pay for themselves with energy savings in about nine months
  • May or may not be dimmable, depending on the model
  • Should be recycled because they contain a small amount of mercury

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

This is a type of solid-state lighting (SSL) that uses semiconductors to convert electricity into light similar to how lasers work. LED bulbs have gone from use in traffic lights to the mainstream. They offer a range of benefits to users, such as the following:

  • Available in Energy Star qualified models
  • Use 20 to 25 percent of the energy of conventional bulbs
  • Last 15 to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs
  • Can be found in a wide array of models and wattage, including for exterior, recessed, and track lighting
  • Expected to come down in price as more models enter the marketplace

At Bolt Electric, we typically recommend LED bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs whenever possible. Let’s look at an energy price comparison for the bulbs we’ve just discussed:

  • Traditional 60W incandescent bulb: 1,000 hours of light for $4.80
  • Halogen incandescent (43W): 1,000 to 3,000 hours of light for $3.50
  • CFL or compact fluorescent lamp (15W): 10,000 hours of light for $1.20
  • LED or light-emitting diode (12W): 25,000 hours of light for $1.00

Clearly, LED bulbs are the winner here when it comes to your building’s utility bills. We find these the most energy-efficient light bulbs. As an added bonus, the long life of an LED bulb means you won’t have to change them nearly as often, which saves on labor time and money.

How Should You Make the Change to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs?

We recommend changing to energy-efficient light bulbs as part of an overall cost savings program or green initiative for your building. If you replace all bulbs in your public spaces at once, it will be easy to keep track of when they will likely need to be replaced again and how much energy you are saving overall.

A few final tips:

  • Take a look at other places where your building is losing energy. These could be the boiler room or the air conditioning. Then make them part of your energy initiative too.
  • Use timers, dimmers, and motion sensors where appropriate to further reduce the use of energy for lighting.
  • Offer information about energy-efficient light bulbs to your tenants, so they can take advantage of cost savings as well.
  • Consult with accounting and trade professionals about the possibility of tax rebates for operating an energy-efficient building.

Want more help reducing energy costs for your New York City apartment building? Reach out today to Bolt Electric. We are a division of Omnia Mechanical Group and affiliated with Sanitary Plumbing. We can help you replace your old light bulbs to save money and reduce energy use. We can also help you find other places where you might be able to lower operating costs through the efficient use of electricity.

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