Turning Off Lights: Does it Really Save You Money on Your Energy Bill?

Turning off lights to save money used to be considered a wise thing to do. Although the lights we burn aren’t really the major portion of our power bills we don’t want to leave them burning all the time, either. At what point does turning off lights save you money? At what point does the same actually cost you more?

Most people think if they shut lights off every time they leave the room that they’re saving money. Others have heard about power surges when lights are turned on so they leave them on to save money. Which method is the proper route to take when trying to save on power bills?

Experts say that it all depends on the type of lighting you are using in your home. If you’re using incandescent lights it’s advisable to turn them off if you know you’ll be out of a room for at least five minutes. If you’re using fluorescent lights, whether they’re tubular or bulb-shaped, it’s better to leave them burning unless you will be out of the room at least 15 minutes.

The reason the fluorescent bulbs should be left burning and not the incandescent lights is because of the power surge needed to relight the bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs have a shorter life span when they are turned on and off, on and off. Incandescent lights are not affected by how many times they are turned on or off, though. So even if you think you’re saving money by turning the fluorescent lights off it could actually cost you more to replace the bulbs than what you’re saving on your power bill.

The recommendations for shutting fluorescent and incandescent lights off when exiting a room are based on a figure of a nickle per kilowatt hour. If your own power company charges more than that it could be in your best interest to shut incandescent lights off if you’ll be out of the room for only 3 or 4 minutes or, for fluorescent bulbs, if you’ll be out of the room for only 10 minutes.

If you tend to leave lights on when you leave the room, because you’ve heard that there’s a start-up surge that can cost you more, you’re worrying about that for no reason. There is a start-up surge but it lasts for only a fraction of a second, therefore, the power bill won’t show a larger amount because you’ve turned the lights on and off frequently.

Turning the fluorescent lights off does shorten their life considerably, though. For instance, if you use a fluorescent light for 3 hours before shutting it off the lamp will last approximately 20,000 hours but if you leave the light on for 6 hours each time, the lamp will last about 24,000 hours.

Everyone wants to save on their power bills and there are many ways to do so. Shut off lights if you won’t be in the room for some time, make sure hot water heaters are not turned up to their highest setting, and try to hang linens and other items outside to dry rather than running the dryer. These efforts will save much more money than if you turn a few lights off now and then.

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