Updated: Mar 13, 2021
One of the best places we can make a difference? Right in our own homes: especially for the well-being of the environment, the health of our planet, our topsoil, and our food.
It can all boil down to cutting down energy as a simple first task. And what energy do we tend to consume in our homes and dwellings more than light?
Fortunately, cutting down light consumption is easy, effective, and affordable, and it’s all about what light bulbs and fixtures we use.
The times and the industry are a-changing. That means more sustainable, earth-conscious lighting options are becoming cheaper than ever before!
If you’re looking to switch things up to more sustainable lighting choices, here are the best bulbs, fixtures, and lighting options to check out for cutting down your energy use.
LED. (Light Emitting Diode)
At the head of the curve in sustainable lights are LEDs. Years ago these were incredibly expensive and hard to find.
Now they’re available almost anywhere and in versions that fit almost any light fixture in the home, too.
LED’s are also only slightly more expensive on average than typical incandescent light bulbs, but they use around a quarter to even a third less energy!
In the long run this saves you money even if they cost a bit more up front.
Better yet, some LED’s are starting to get cheaper than incandescent ones.
Yet another type of LED category, called organic LED’s (OLED’s), are even more low-energy but are still quite pricey on the market.
You should also take into account the actual lifespan of LED bulbs, which can last for around 25 years maximum.
Now that’s a lot of energy and materials saved!
Not as efficient or energy saving as LED’s, halogen incandescents are still a reasonable option.
If you have to choose between these and regular incandescents at the store, halogens are your best bet.
In fact, they’re almost exactly like typical incandescents, except a chamber of halogen gas is built around the filament. This boosts its energy use by minimizing how much electricity it drains to run.
This cuts down a lot on how much power the bulb saps, but it still pales in comparison to the energy efficiency of other types.
CFL (Compact Fluorescent)
Also very sustainable and efficient, some folks may take a liking to this type even more than LED’s.
That’s because they offer warmer and more natural lighting (though LED’s are starting to offer some more natural illumination, too).
That said, they are slightly less energy saving and sustainable than LED’s. Their lifespan is a shorter, lasting around 15 years tops on average.
One thing to keep in mind with CFL is that they do contain a small amount of mercury and if broken, this can be dangerous.
I personally would not choose CFL as my first option. Learn more about the risks here:
Additionally, compared to LED’s, CFL’s also require 15 watts to produce the same amount of brightness compared to an LED’s 12 watts.
For halogen incandescents to match either of these requires 60 watts to run!
Many of the most energy saving light options may also be the designs which are least compatible with human health.
There are indeed drawbacks, even to LEDs, as they could disrupt circadian rhythm, among other downsides. New lighting tech deserves further studies to determine potential unforeseen consequences after longterm exposure.
Unfortunately, there is no one simple solution for lighting, as it appears there is likely a tradeoff for either human or environmental impact.
For human health, our safest bet may be to go as natural as possible, with either candlelight or the old fashioned incandescent light bulb.