These days, it's hard to get through a day without hearing about green building, sustainability or the environment. With the ever-escalating cost of utility bills, home lighting is one of the issues at the forefront of the green building movement. After all, it can't be too hard to improve upon the incandescent light bulb, which was invented more than 100 years ago!
While the earliest green trends in the lighting industry leaned toward compact fluorescent bulbs, many people found them impractical to use in the home. They produce light that some consider to be more dim and less desirable than that of incandescent bulbs, and they aren't compatible with most dimmable light fixtures. Because they contain mercury, disposal and safety are also major concerns.
Because of these limitations, homeowners are turning instead to halogen bulbs. Not only can halogen lights be used in more practical applications, such as on dimmer switches, but they're free of mercury and are comparably efficient to compact fluorescents. Halogens can be expected to last between 2,000 and 4,000 hours, compared to 750 to 1,500 hours of use with the traditional incandescent bulb [source: Energy Star].This longer lifespan means less waste going to landfills, fewer bulbs being produced and less energy used in production.
In addition to having a longer lifespan, halogen bulbs also are considered more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Lighting power or output is measured in lumens, while the electrical power used to run these lights is measured in watts. To compare lighting efficiency, we look at the lumens produced per watt used. While incandescent bulbs produce 12 to 18 lumens per watt, halogen bulbs can produce 16 to 29 lumens per watt. This is due to the fact that the halogen gas in the bulb brings it to a higher temperature, allowing the filament to burn brighter than that of a traditional bulb [source: Energy Star].
By reducing waste and producing more efficient bulbs, we're able to not only reduce our impact on the environment but also reduce our lighting costs. To see how much money you can save with halogen bulbs, read on to the next section.