Monday, 14 September 2009

Energy-saving lightbulbs

Prompted by our ‘Think Local’ in a few weeks, I thought I’d start some green blogging. Hence the subtle change of colour!

I’ve been trying to convert as many of our lights at home converted to energy-saving bulbs – with mixed results. The standard bulbs – the ones with visible tubes – are now very good. They start up quickly, have a good colour and do seem to last a long time. We’ve got these in hall, stairs and porch lights and they’re fine. In our lounge we used to have 40 watt incandescent golfball bulbs on wall brackets with small lampshades. The ceilings are low so we can’t have ceiling lights. The first bulbs I found – long life golfballs were a failure – they took 10 minutes to fire up and, although quoted as equivalent to 40 watts, were rather dim. I’ve now found some better ones – they have exposed tubes but in a small spiral. We’ve had to buy some new lampshades but I’ve moved the golfball bulbs and lampshades to the study – but I have to admit to having one tungsten lamp for instant light!

The kitchen has reflector bulbs in downlighters. Originally 40 watt tungsten , I had already converted some of these to halogen bulbs which are reported to last 2000 hours. I’ve now found some replacement bulbs – at Gil-Lec in Chesham – that are pretty good. They are slow to start, which is not ideal in a kitchen, but once they warm up they work very well.

The kitchen lights are 7 watt and the lounge ones 8 or 12 watt so we’re achieving a significant saving on electricity. I’ve just had a letter reducing my monthly direct debit because of lower usage.

We’ve also got two outside lights that are switched on via a photocell. I normally leave them on all the time, but I thought I’d try to get a timeswitch to switch off at midnight or so. I found one in B&Q but what I didn’t notice (it was very small print) was that it doesn’t work with ling-life bulbs. I guess that it needs a trickle current through a filament to keep it operating. So it’s back to the on-off switch.

I’ve just done a check of the lights we use regularly at home: 73% are long-life, and we’ll convert most of the rest once the current ones expire. How are you doing?

What do you think of the look of long-life bulbs? We recently had a visit to St Peter & Paul, Great Missenden, by members of the Bucks Historic Churches Trust. We have the plain long life bulbs in most of the fittings. One member said ‘they don’t look too bad, do they?’ another said ‘they look terrible.’ What’s your view? The older tungsten bulbs are no more authentic, of course, just that we’ve been used to them for many years!

‘Think Local’ will take place in the Oldham Hall, Church Street, Great Missenden HP16 0AZ on Sunday 4th October from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Sponsored by the Church, it aims to encourage members of the community to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by shopping locally.

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