Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Household lighting: How do you measure up?

It's rare that a government report provides such fascinating reading. But there are true gems in the 2010 lighting report the Department of Energy released today. Mostly, I was scanning it to see what was up in the residential area - plenty, it turns out - and how I measured up.

Household lighting: How do you measure up?

It’s rare that a government report provides such fascinating reading. But there are true gems in the 2010 lighting report the Department of Energy released today.

Mostly, I was scanning it to see what was up in the residential area — plenty, it turns out — and how I measured up.

I love lighting to begin with. It’s changing so fast, and I’m in a constant race to see how little energy I can expend on it in my own home. I buy energy efficient bulbs. I flip switches. The instant I’m in the front door at night, the porch light goes off.

But still ...

Since 2001, the average number of light sockets has risen from 43 per household to 51.

Don’t believe it? Count ‘em. And the six bulbs in the dining room chandelier counts as six, not as one.

We not only have more sockets, but also more households. So residential lighting turns out to be the main reason that the total number of lamps in “stationary” applications — in our buildings, as opposed to our cars, for example — has risen from less than 7 billion in 2001 to more than 8 billion in 2010.

Guess which type of room has more lights. Bathrooms.

They lead the pack at 8.9 lights per house — although this is partly because many homes have multiple bathrooms. So it’s not 8.9 lights per bathroom. But, heck, one of my bathrooms has four: one in the shower and three over the sink. Not counting the night light.

Bedrooms are next with 8.2 lights, on average. Living rooms have 6.5 and kitchens, 6.4.

But in the U.S. we have, at long last, started to embrace energy efficiency in household lighting.

Although 62 percent of household bulbs in the U.S. are incandescents, nearly a quarter of them — 23 percent — are CFLs. Most of these are in basements, followed closely by living rooms, bedrooms and offices.

Overall, CFLs “seem to be significant players in almost every room type,” the report noted.

Next on the use scale is linear fluorescents, which made up 10 percent of household lighting.

Poor LEDs weren’t even counted, except in the “other” category, which amounted to one percent.

The type of light that is left on for the longest is exterior lights, at 2.6 hours per day. So I guess that says something about our security concerns.

Kitchens were next at 2.3 hours, which might say something about family companionship ... or obesity.

Overall, the electricity for lighting — for commercial, industrial, residential and outdoor uses — accounts for nearly a fifth of electricity use in the U.S.

Which means there’s plenty of room for improvement, it seems to me.

Mostly, I was scanning it to see what was up in the residential area — plenty, it turns out — and how I measured up.
I love lighting to begin with. It’s changing so fast, and I’m in a constant race to see how little energy I can expend on it in my own home. I buy energy efficient bulbs. I flip switches. The instant I’m in the front door at night, the porch light goes off.
But still ...
Since 2001, the average number of light sockets has risen from 43 per household to 51.
Don’t believe it? Count ‘em. And the six bulbs in the dining room chandelier counts as six, not as one.
We not only have more sockets, but also more households. So residential lighting turns out to be the main reason  that the total number of lamps in “stationary” applications — in our buildings, as opposed to our cars, for example — has risen from less than 7 billion in 2001 to more than 8 billion in 2010.
Guess which type of room has more lights. Bathrooms.
They lead the pack at 8.9 lights per house — although this is partly because many homes have multiple bathrooms. So it’s not 8.9 lights per bathroom. But, heck, one of my bathrooms has four: one in the shower and three over the sink. Not counting the night light.
Bedrooms are next with 8.2 lights, on average. Living rooms have 6.5 and kitchens, 6.4.
But in the U.S. we have, at long last, started to embrace energy efficiency in household lighting.
Although 62 percent of household bulbs in the U.S. are incandescents, nearly a quarter of them — 23 percent — are CFLs. Most of these are in basements, followed closely by living rooms, bedrooms and offices.
Overall, CFLs “seem to be significant players in almost every room type,” the report noted.
Next on the use scale is linear fluorescents, which made up 10 percent of household lighting.
Poor LEDs weren’t even counted, except in the “other” category, which amounted to one percent.
The type of light that is left on for the longest is exterior lights, at 2.6 hours per day. So I guess that says something about our security concerns.
Kitchens were next at 2.3 hours, which might say something about family companionship ... or obesity.
Overall, the electricity for lighting — for commercial, industrial, residential and outdoor uses — accounts for nearly a fifth of electricity use in the U.S.
Which means there’s plenty of room for improvement, it seems to me.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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