Time to install those ‘winter bulbs’

October 14, 2014

Take advantage of cool weather to burn out those last incandescent light bulbs

If you still have some incandescent light bulbs hanging around and are unsure what to do with them, here’s a suggestion: use them only during the heating season.

In these days of efficient bulbs, that sounds counterintuitive, but here’s the story. Of all the energy used by incandescent light bulbs, only about 10% actually produces light; the rest is lost as heat. In warmer months of the year, that heat is unneeded and therefore wasted. And in hot months, it’s even worse: that waste heat from light bulbs makes air conditioners work much harder.

But during cooler months, when heating systems are operating, the waste heat from incandescent light bulbs is actually useful: it allows heaters to run less.

So if you have some leftover old incandescent light bulbs, consider installing them just during the cool months, when their waste heat is not wasted.

An important clarification: there’s no question that efficient light bulbs are the way to go – compact fluorescents or, even better, LEDs. This is only a strategy to work through any remaining incandescent bulbs. If you happen to be in New Brunswick, take advantage of this great promotion on efficient light bulbs.

(Quick insider note: my Mom has some old long-life incandescent light bulbs that, true to their name, refuse to burn out. So installing her ‘winter bulbs’ has been part of our Thanksgiving routine for several years now, and removing them is part of the Easter routine…)

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