Thursday, 14 January 2016

I'm Incandescent!

Saw a technology story the other day about researchers in the USA having developed a technology to make the old incandescent bulb more efficient. Living in an eco house, this interested me. Now the old fashioned bulbs are meant to be hideously inefficient, as they convert only 2~3% of their energy use into light with the rest coming off as heat - this is why eco warriors have a downer on them. A corollary to this is that they're very efficient at generating heat. Bear this in mind as you follow my logic.

Now lightbulbs are mainly used when the hours of daylight are restricted, which usually coincide with periods when it's colder outside and you therefore tend to have the heating on. It strikes me that the old incandescent bulbs therefore contribute to warming a house - with a massive 97~98% efficiency in terms of heat production - and if you switch to the more efficient bulbs you ain't going to see any saving in the colder months, as your thermostatically controlled heating system will ratchet up to compensate for the lack of heat from the incandescent bulbs. Added to that, most heating systems are vastly more inefficient than a light bulb when it comes to providing heat from energy.

I would contend than any saving made in the summer is more than outweighed by the extra energy required from the inefficient heating system in winter. In all calculations I've seen on the savings accruing to energy saving bulbs, they are simply compared directly to incandescent bulbs without any allowance for incandescent bulbs contributing to the heating of a home during the darker months.

I'd like to see some studies on this in real life situations.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a child in the 50's I heard my parents talk of feeling colder when their parents changed from candles for lighting to electricity.