Electricity rates are soaring, and the compact fluorescent bulb is being hailed
as the savior of energy and our environment. We must replace our light bulbs, we
are told. The incandescent lamp is the boogeyman! No one mentions the resulting
reduction of lighting quality and comfort level we experience.
I am here to defend the much-maligned incandescent light. As a lighting designer,
I prefer that the emphasis be on producing more renewable, non-polluting energy
rather than eliminating the incandescent lamp.
The vibration of fluorescent lighting is unsettling and the color, drab. The tri-phosphor
fluorescent lamp brings out the red and blue in complexion tones, making us look
somewhat purple. Incandescent brings out a smoother band of the color spectrum like
a candle flame. It's much more flattering to people and objects.
Incandescent light can be easily dimmed. Some Light Emitting Diodes (LED) can be
dimmed. However, only incandescent currently can provide the dramatic lighting effect
of full dimming capability.
General Electric recently announced major strides toward a new incandescent technology
that will give more lumens per watt, cutting down on energy usage. Halogen light
sources produce more lumens per watt than standard incandescent sources. Halogen
infrared reflector sources are even more efficient. They are available in Par-38
and MR-16 lamps.
The best, and easiest, thing we can do to save energy is to turn lights off when
we're not using them. Install and use dimming equipment. It too saves energy and
extends incandescent lamp life.
For the long term, we need to encourage decentralized production of electricity
via photovoltaic solar panels and wind turbines at the point of use, whether an
individual residence, or commercial building or a group of structures, such as a
townhouse community, or an office park. Battery technology has improved greatly
in recent years, helping to make this a viable alternative.
If there's a power outage due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane or a manmade
situation, having a solar array on the roof with enough battery storage to run some
lights and a television would make a big difference.
There is a constant tightening of the allowed watts per foot for lighting in commercial
buildings. This is becoming an issue in residential lighting design in California,
as well. Building codes could be written to require a structure to produce a defined
percentage of the energy needed for its operation. Curtain walls utilizing photovoltaic
cells in spandrel glass are now in operation as well as solar arrays applied as
shingles in residential construction.
Tell me if you disagree! What are your energy saving ideas that don't sacrifice
ambient lighting? We'd like to know.