We are seeing the end of the traditional incandescent light bulb as governments around the world seek ways to reduce our energy consumption. In the EU, all incandescent lamps will be banned by 2012. We all grew up under the warm glow of the filament lamp and its a sad prospect that we are due to lose such a simple and practical lighting tool, but we have to accept the reality that all of us are using far more energy than the world can afford Ã¯Â¿Â½ and things have to change.
What it means in practice is that we either use less energy to produce the level of lighting that we currently enjoy, or we reduce the amount of light we use Ã¯Â¿Â½ or, of course, we use less energy AND reduce the amount of light we use.
LetÃ¯Â¿Â½s look at the technology thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s available to reduce our energy consumption.
An ordinary light bulb Ã¯Â¿Â½ the incandescent filament lamp, operates at 10lm/W, which hasnÃ¯Â¿Â½t really improved in a century. Please Ã¯Â¿Â½ no pedants giving me the actual improvement. Its still not good enough.
(Explainer: lumens (lm) are the measure for the light produced / watts (W) is the power thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s measured through our electricity meter)
The small spotlamps that we see in kitchen ceilings / high street shops / bars and restaurants / museums and art galleries Ã¯Â¿Â½ in fact EVERYWHERE, like a rash, use tungsten halogen technology. They are still incandescent filament sources, but they are twice as efficient as the ordinary light bulb, so they are around 20lm/W.
But the figures for fluorescent lamps demonstrate how much more energy efficient these lamps are: from 60lm/W to 100lm/W.
The Government and environmental groups everywhere would like us to use more energy efficient lamps Ã¯Â¿Â½ so that means more fluorescent lamps, or does it? There is a new light source on the block, and the LED lamp will soon be knocking on the door of the fluorescent lamps suggesting that they seek employment elsewhere.
The simple answer, then, is to look at all of the lamps in your home or place of work and seek to swap any incandescent lamp for either a fluorescent or LED source.
But are we using too much light?
Think twice about leaving lamps burning when rooms arenÃ¯Â¿Â½t in use.
HereÃ¯Â¿Â½s a simple idea: if youÃ¯Â¿Â½re the last person leaving a room, turn off the light!
One of the Ã¯Â¿Â½smoke and mirrorÃ¯Â¿Â½ techniques that lighting designers employ is to use multiple lighting points, rather than have a large fitting in the centre of a room. On the face of it, this doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t make a deal of energy sense because weÃ¯Â¿Â½re likely to be replacing perhaps 200W of light with 300W of light (incandescent figures). But if you only have one or two lamps on, then the overall consumption is reduced. Furthermore, if youÃ¯Â¿Â½re able to dim your lighting, then that will reduce energy consumption as well.
As a designer, I look forward to the challenges of any new technology, and reducing lighting energy whilst sustaining light quality is as good as it gets. Just because we need to use less energy, it doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t mean we have to reduce the QUALITY of our lighting. We live busy, sophisticated lives and our homes and the places where we work and visit deserve to be embraced with a positive aesthetic approach to design.
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The elephant box in the room
What Lighting Designers Should be Looking For . . . and Asking For
The Children's Fire
Products That Last - Redux
Products That Last - Review No.3
Products That Last - Review No.2
Products That Last - Review No.1
Products That Last
Talking about Waste - as we were . . .
Sustainability - They Seek it Here, They Seek it There . . .
Sustainability - the core message
The Life and Times of the LED - a series in ten parts
Sustainability: They Seek it Here; They Seek it There . . .
John Bullock writes a regular column for lighting magazines. You can find all of the archived pieces here.
BLOGS - LIGHTING DESIGN
John Bullock writes about all things and anything concerning architectural lighting design; new technologies and old lamps; anything,really.
HOME LIGHTING CONSULTANT
John Bullock designs innovative lighting designs for people's homes. By working closely with clients he is able to deliver solutions that meet - and exceed - their expectations.
BLOGS - CPD RIBA CORE PROGRAMME 2015
John Bullock will be presenting a seminar on latest lighting design and technologies as part of the RIBA CPD Core programme 2015
BLOGS - SUSTAINABILITY
John Bullock believes that the UK lighting industry needs to embrace a sustainable way of delivering good quality product through good design, fabrication and end-of-life management.
BLOGS - LIGHTING HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Lighting has a vital role to play in our health and wellbeing.
CONDUIT (6) - Lighting for Winter Gardens
CONDUIT 5: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (2)
FX Magazine: Lighting Focus - Sustainability (Issue 258)
CONDUIT 4: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (1)
Can Smart Lighting Save The Planet?
CONDUIT 3: Home Lighting - The Bathroom
Can Lighting Save Us From Ourselves . . . NO!
CONDUIT 2: Home Lighting - The Dining Room