Energy Saving Light Bulb vs. Traditional Light Bulb

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Energy Saving Light Bulb vs. Traditional Light Bulb

It has long been known that incandescent light bulbs are not an energy-efficient way to light the world. In fact, of the total electrical power supplied to these bulbs, less than 5 per cent is actually converted into light; the remaining energy is given off as heat. Legislation in a number of countries around the world is attempting to phase out the incandescent bulb in favour of more energy-efficient options. These traditional light bulbs, however, remain a popular choice among consumers because of their comparatively low cost. When comparing energy saving light bulbs to traditional light bulbs, consumers need to understand how each works, and the attributes of each type of bulb.

History of the Light Bulb

Contrary to popular belief, it was not Thomas Edison who "invented" the light bulb, though in 1879 he did offer the first incandescent light that was practical to produce commercially. As a matter of fact, there are thought to have been more than 20 inventors prior to Edison who invented various light sources. An inventor named Humphry Davy invented the first electric light in 1802, after his experiments with electricity led to the invention of the electric battery. Davy's light was known as the Electric Arc Lamp, and while it did produce light, the light did not last long, and was too bright to be popular.

Thomas Edison's bulb was superior to all of these attempts because of his use of a more effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum, and a high resistance that made power distribution from a single, centralised source viable.

How an Incandescent Light Bulb Works

Incandescent light bulbs are constructed using a very thin tungsten filament inside of a vacuum-sealed glass bulb. Electricity runs through that filament, which provides resistance to the electricity. The resistance turns energy into heat. There is enough heat produced to turn the tiny filament white-hot. It is this white part that provides light. The problem is, the filament glows because of the heat, not some magical glowing property. Because a lot of heat is needed to make the filaments glow even a little, a lot of electricity is wasted. This is why incandescent light bulbs are considered inefficient uses of energy.

How a Fluorescent Bulb Works

Fluorescent bulbs are one of the more popular choices when it comes to energy-efficient lighting. A fluorescent tube is filled with argon gas and mercury vapour. Electrodes at each end of the tube allow electrons to flow from one end of the tube to the other, exciting the mercury atoms on the way. As these mercury atoms return to their normal state, they give off ultraviolet photons, which collide with the phosphor coating inside of the tube and creates light. It is ultimately the phosphor that fluoresces to produce light. That may sound a bit complicated, but the process is simply causing atoms to move around inside of the tube, causing a reaction that produces visible light. Little heat is created.

About Compact Fluorescent Lights

On average, lighting is responsible for approximately 20 per cent of a home's electricity bill. One of the easiest ways to decrease that energy bill is to switch from incandescent bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). Technological advances have made CFLs much more desirable, as they are smaller, more efficient, quick to light up, and provide better light. CFLs use about 75 per cent less energy to produce the same amount of light as a traditional light bulb, and lasts 10 times longer. CFLs produce 70 per cent less heat, which, in turn, means less electricity is needed to cool the home.

Comparing Energy Usage vs. Light Given

In this chart, incandescent bulbs and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are compared regarding energy usage and light provided. Watts are a unit of energy, and lumens are a unit of visible light.


Lumens Per Watt

Watts Used

Total Lumens

Incandescent bulb




Fluorescent tube




Incandescent bulb




Fluorescent tube




A commonly used incandescent bulb is 60 watts, which provides 900 lumens of light. It is easy to see that the fluorescent tube, using only 15 watts of power, provides nearly twice the amount of light at 1,500 lumens. Fluorescent lighting is clearly more energy efficient.

About LED Lighting

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is another energy-efficient lighting technology that is evolving rapidly. LEDs are small, solid light bulbs that were originally limited to single-bulb use in products, such as electronics, instrument panels, and Christmas lights. Recently, manufacturers have begun clustering these tiny bulbs and encasing them in diffuser lenses, which spread their normally directional light in wider beams. Even with the diffusers, LEDs remain a directional light, making them good for recessed lighting, but not so good for table lamps. In order for LEDs to be efficient, they must be able to provide stable white light for general lighting purposes. This requires intelligent design.

About ENERGY STAR Ratings

The ENERGY STAR programme originated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy in 1992. Since that time, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, and the European Union have adopted this energy-saving programme. Electronic devices that carry the ENERGY STAR mark, such as computers, kitchen appliances, lights, and other products, use 20 to 30 per cent less energy than is required by federal standards. Products that earn an ENERGY STAR rating have met strict guidelines set by the programme, and lighting products with the ENERGY STAR mark not only use less energy, but provide exceptional features. Saving energy not only saves money, it protects the environment by reducing greenhouse gases.

Performance Requirements for an ENERGY STAR Rating

There are certain performance requirements to receive an ENERGY STAR rating. To qualify for an ENERGY STAR rating, CFLs must meet certain criteria, such as the following.


The efficiency of light bulbs is measured by the amount of light that is put out compared to the amount of energy that absorbed. ENERGY STAR CFLs are required to provide at least three times more lumens per watt than their incandescent counterparts.

Lumen Maintenance

Every light bulb grows dim with use. ENERGY STAR CFLs are required to maintain 80 per cent of their initial level of light for 40 per cent of their rated lifetime. This means that an 8,000-hour CFL must give off 80 per cent of its original brightness after 3,200 hours of use.


ENERGY STAR CFLs must last a minimum of 6,000 hours. The average rated lifetime of ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs is 10,000 hours. If a family uses such a bulb three hours a day, it should last nine years.

Starting Time

To qualify for an ENERGY STAR rating, certain bulbs must brighten after a certain amount of time. CFLs must provide light in less than one second from the time that they are turned on.

Warm-Up Time

Even though the CFL starts in less than one second, mercury vapour bulbs must reach their full brightness in less than a minute. Bulbs with amalgam mercury must reach full brightness in less than three minutes.

Other Tests

In addition to these requirements, all ENERGY STAR rated products are tested for safety, reliability, colour constancy, colour rendering, and mercury control. There are several more tests required to become ENERGY STAR rated.

Buying Energy Saving Light Bulbs or Traditional Light Bulbs on eBay

eBay makes researching light bulbs easy, placing a variety of options in a single place. To search for light bulbs, you could enter keywords into the search box like "light bulbs", "incandescent bulbs", or "CFL lights". If you find there are too many results, you can filter your search by choosing a price range that is comfortable for you, a particular seller, or a location of the items. Clicking on any item in which you are interested after your search provides more detailed information, including photographs and shipping information. Buyers can also learn about the seller by clicking on the seller's name. This information includes feedback ratings, and comments from previous customers. Top Rated sellers have a history of excellent policies and feedback. Consumers should also search eBay Deals for great discounts on light bulbs.


Since their invention in the 1800s, electric lights have become a staple to modern living. A person looking out over a city vista sees a virtual sea of lights, most of which are outdoor lights. Indoor lighting exists in every room of the house or office, and most rooms have multiple lights. Parents around the world remind their children to "turn off the lights", and agonise over their monthly power bill. Simply switching out the home or office light bulbs, opting for energy saving bulbs over incandescent bulbs, saves a significant amount of money. Even accounting for the additional cost to purchase each bulb, their greatly extended life combined with the huge energy savings is definitely worth it. Whichever type of lighting consumers are searching for, eBay makes research and buying easy.

Incandescent Bulb|CFL Light|Energy Efficient Light|Lighting|LED

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