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Publication: Living Green
The higher wattage mystery explained.

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          LIVING GREEN - Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good morning, 

Several readers wrote in asking about yesterday's higher-
wattage, lower-cost issue. So I did a little research. 

Scroll down for more details on this apparent anomaly. 
WARNING: Science content follows! 

Thanks for reading, 

Your Living Green editor 



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* Higher wattage bulbs tend to be more efficient than lower 
wattage ones. One reason for this is the fact that thicker 
filaments can be operated at a higher temperature, which is 
better for radiating visible light.

* Another reason is that since higher wattage bulbs would 
lead you to use fewer bulbs, you buy fewer bulbs and the 
cost of bulbs becomes less important. To optimize cost 
effectiveness in this case of higher wattage light bulbs, 
the filaments are designed to run even hotter to improve 
energy efficiency to reduce your electricity costs.

* Smaller bulbs use less electricity apiece, making the cost 
of the bulb more important. This is why lower wattage bulbs 
are often designed to last 1500 to a few thousand hours in-
stead of 750 to 1000 hours. Designing the bulbs to last 
longer reduces their light output and energy efficiency.

* To minimize your cost of both electricity and bulbs, you 
should use as few bulbs as possible, using higher wattage 
bulbs. To get the same amount of light with lower wattage 
bulbs, you need both more electricity and more bulbs.


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