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Mythbusters! The Light Bulb Edition

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
December 2, 2009

Sophomore Megan Otteson embraces efficient lighting by dressing as a compact fluorescent bulb during UNH's recent Energy Waste Watch Challenge. Photo credit: Michele Chapman, Office of Sustainability.

As we enter the darkest season of the year, the Energy Task Force wants to dispel an enduring myth about using lighting efficiently: To save money and energy, turn lights off when they’re not being used.

The notion that switching lights on and off is more expensive than leaving them on is long due for retirement, says Jim Dombrosk, UNH’s director of energy and utilities. Half a century ago, when lamps were expensive and electricity was cheap, that may have been the case.

“Times have changed, and now lights are relatively inexpensive and electricity is expensive,” says Dombrosk.

While turning lights on and off during the day can shorten the life of the bulb, turning off a fluorescent bulb that will be off for five or more minutes is still cheaper than leaving it on. Incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that it always pays to turn them off, even for short periods of time.

For maximum efficiency, replace all incandescent – including halogen – light bulbs with fluorescent lamps. There’s a reason the compact fluorescent light bulb has become an icon of energy efficiency: every dollar spent on electricity for an incandescent bulb nets just 15 cents of visible light.

For more energy saving tips, go to http://www.energy.unh.edu/You_Help.htm.

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