With the increases in the price of energy, your choices in lighting options have become more important than ever before. Most people are familiar with the incandescent and the fluorescent bulb but there are other options as well.
Passive systems such as skylights have been around for many years and can provide natural light to a space for free.
In the past, the technology was not very good and basically consisted of a fixed window mounted in the roof. One had to worry about leaks when it rained as well as increased cooling load on the home.
Modern systems contain sensors and motors to open and close the skylight for natural cooling and protection from rain damage.
The familiar incandescent bulb is very cheap to buy and is the most common type in use. This type has three basic disadvantages. First, is the fact that the bulbs produce a substantial amount of heat during operation. When you are trying to cool your home, this means that your air conditioner must run to remove the heat that is produced from the bulbs. The second problem with them is that the bulbs do not last very long when compared to other technologies.(The standard bulb typically lasts from 1000 to 2000 hours of operation.) The third disadvantage is that these bulbs are actually not very efficient.
For several years now, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) have been available to replace the traditional incandescent type. These bulbs are more efficient and therefore produce less heat that your air conditioner must remove. They also typically last for 10000 to 15000 hours or about five times longer than the incandescent bulbs. This option has one major disadvantage which is the fact that they use mercury which is a very poisonous chemical and, when the bulbs are thrown in a landfill, the mercury finds its way into our rivers and lakes as well as our drinking water.
We are all familiar with the little red or green lights that are found on most electronic devices. These are LEDs and only recently has the technology advanced to where they can provide light for buildings. (The white LED was invented in 2006) Today there are replacement bulbs that can replace existing CFL or incandescent bulbs. LED is an acronym for light emitting diode and their principle of operation is very simple. When electric power is supplied to them, electrons and holes meet and they release energy in the form of photons which is light. These bulbs can last for up to 50000 hours. That means that you could have the light on for 8 hours each day for 17 years before it would require replacement. The bulbs do not use mercury vapor to produce light which is another advantage and is good for the environment. These units also use about 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. This also means that they produce substantially less heat when they are being used which can save you in cooling costs for your home or business. The only real disadvantage of this option is the initial cost of the product.
Induction lighting has been used in commercial buildings and areas where access is limited and it is hard to replace the bulbs. This technology is now becoming available for lighting homes and is called acandescent by the manufacturer (The Finally Light Bulb Company). These bulbs replace the tungsten filament with a copper wire that produces a magnetic field when power is applied. This magnetic field is used to produce light in much the same way as a fluorescent bulb. The bulbs are 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 15 times longer. The bulbs are less expensive than LED units but contain a very small amount of mercury.