Turn Down For Watt

What does turning your lights off after you leave a room do for your carbon footprint and your energy bill? Way more than you probably think.

A lightbulb with a 60 watt rating uses up approximately 0.06 kilowatt-hours (kWh). There are a variety of lightbulbs (incandescent, halogen, CFL, LED) with a variety of watt ratings, so let’s assume all of the lightbulbs in your home are of the 60 watt rating and the wiring in your home gives the 0.06 kWh energy output when the lightbulbs are in use. Most light fixtures have multiple bulbs. Now think about how many light fixtures there are in your home. I counted 24 lightbulbs in my small apartment, so let’s use that number for this example. All 24 lightbulbs in use at 0.06 kWh each gives an energy usage of 144 watts per hour. That’s 1,728 watts of electricity in a twelve-hour period.

Turning off all the lights except for the room you’re currently occupying would save around 100-120 watts per hour. Consistently turning off lights as you leave a room and using fewer light fixtures within a room adds up to a huge savings in energy and a nice drop in your monthly electricity bill, especially if your electric rate per kWh is on the pricier side. There are several other ways to reduce your energy usage at home, in addition to being conscious of the direction of your light switches:

  1. Unplug any devices or appliances when they’re not in use. Besides being a potential fire hazard, plugged-in electronics can draw varying amounts of “phantom energy” or “vampire power” while in standby mode.
  2. Replace old incandescent lightbulbs with CFL or LED lightbulbs. Both CFL and LED bulbs are more efficient than the outdated incandescent bulbs, which give off more heat than light.
  3. Use your air conditioner sparingly. Some regions can avoid high AC usage better than others, but keeping shades drawn, closing windows and doors completely, and turning on a fan in the room you’re occupying can help ease the need for AC.
  4. Take the stairs if you live in multifamily housing or dorms. This may not directly affect your energy bill, but think about how much electricity it takes to run an elevator up and down all day. Plus it’s a great way to burn some extra calories!
  5. Wash loads of laundry in cold water and skip the dryer if possible. Most of the energy used by washing machines is used solely to heat the water in a warm cycle, so a cold cycle is definitely ideal. And make sure to fill that baby up to reduce the number of loads.

I challenge you to go on a lightbulb scavenger hunt in your home this week and see just how much energy you’re using up on a daily basis. Making a switch to energy efficient lightbulbs and making a conscious effort to reduce your energy usage at home will reduce your carbon footprint and your electricity bill too!


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