The light bulb that Thomas Edison invented is a good heater. It changes about 90% of the electrical energy that it uses into heat. The little bit of energy that is left gets changed into light. We all know that if you touch one of these bulbs when it is on you will get burned.
If we lived in a very cold climate and electricity was cheep light bulbs would be a good way to heat your house. But it is not cold here in the summer time and electricity is very expensive.
The High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps that we use at work are more efficient but still convert about 80% of the power they use into heat. Factories use them because they last a good long time and put out a lot of light. The amount of light is so great that they need to be hung high above the floor to let their light spread out over a large area. These lamps are too hot and put out too much light for home use.
In low ceiling areas like our homes fluorescent lamps are a better choice. And they don’t get as skin blistering hot. Don’t touch them because the ends do get hot enough to burn you. Fluorescent lamps only change about 30% of the electricity that they use into heat. A bigger share of the power they use is changed into light. That makes them a good choice for lighting your house. They cost more to buy than standard light bulbs but they save money because they use less electricity and last much longer.
What a deal you save money and less coal gets burned too.
Changing to compact fluorscent lamps when your light bulbs burn out is one way to lower your energy bill. A better way is to replace the good bulbs in the lamps that are turned on the most with compact fluorescent lamps. Kitchen and living room lights are a good place to start. We have a lamp in our living room that I call our pilot light because my wife never lets it go out.
One point that gets little attention is that many of the old style light bulbs are made in the USA. The CFL lamps are made in China. Buying compact fluorescent lamps sends jobs overseas.
I do not recommend the halogen lamps that are now available for home use. They are energy efficient but they get very very hot. They are too much of a fire hazard to use in my home. My estimate is that they turn about 80% of the power that they use into heat. The heat is very concentrated in these small lamps. They are great for headlights on cars.
Warning, never touch the glass part of halogen bulbs. Fingerprints shorten their useful life to just a few weeks or less. I learned this the hard way when I replace a burned out headlamp myself. Normally they should last many years. The interaction of fingerprint contamination and their high temperatures causes the early failures.
A light that is turned off when not needed makes no heat and adds nothing to your home the electric bill. It works the same way at work too.
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