Fans: Money and Energy Conserving Air Conditioner

Putting it simply, the ceiling fan is the energy and money conserving air conditioner. By not actually lowering the temperature of the room, fans use the “wind chill effect” to lower your body temperature and keep you comfortable when the weather gets hot. How to choose the right one is the golden question.


In The Dark About Picking A Light Bulb?

Buying a light bulb used to be a no-brainer. Now it's a brain teaser; the transition to more energy-efficient lighting means choosing from a dazzling array of products.

We've long identified bulbs by their wattage, but that is actually a measure of electricity, not the brightness of a bulb. The amount of light a bulb generates is measured in lumens.

An incandescent 60-watt bulb, for example, gives off 800 lumens of light. And LED bulbs, which are more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts, can deliver the same amount of light using as little as 10 watts.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an "Energy Star"-rated LED or CFL (compact fluorescent), Americans would save close to $700 million per year in energy costs.

But with so many types of bulbs with different price points and life spans now on the market, many consumers are confused.

When we asked for your questions about light bulbs, we got an earful. So we called in Noah Horowitz, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Center for Energy Efficiency, to answer your most frequently asked questions.

(We should note that Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization, is a strong backer of energy-efficient lighting. It receives a small percentage of funding from government grants, including one from the EPA Energy Star program to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient equipment.)

For even more information about light bulbs — the different types available, how long they last and what they cost over the life of the bulb — check out our guide to changing light bulbs.

Why do some CFLs die so quickly? The whole seven-year life thing seems random. I have some bulbs that last years but others that die within a year.

As not all CFLs are created equal, only buy those that have the Energy Star logo on them. Those bulbs are not only efficient but also meet the Environmental Protection Agency's rigorous performance requirements and must pass various tests including longevity. Switching your CFL on and off frequently may shorten its life. Additionally, CFLs may not turn on or reach their full brightness in really cold temperatures.

Everyone I've talked to says they just throw dead CFLs in the trash. Isn't this a problem for landfills? Are we going to start hearing about dangerous mercury levels in the ground and water in a few years?

To read more, click here...

Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony utilizes extensive LED lighting

Did you see the Sochi Opening Ceremonies?

The celebration was magnificent, with LED lighting being put to use on several occasions. check it out!

And in this display of the Russian flag:

For more photos and information, click here...

Light bulb attack sheds more heat than light

There are two ways to look at the great debate over light bulbs.

One is that government regulations meant to save energy by filling the nation's roughly 4 billion light sockets with vastly more efficient light bulbs are an outrageous offense to personal freedom.

The other is summed up by a funny Internet spot last year for Cree's superefficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs: "The light bulbs in your house were invented by Thomas Edison in 1879. Now think about that with your 2013 brain. Do you still do your wash down at the creek while your eldest son stands lookout for wolves?"

REP. BURGESS: Let consumers decide watt's up

The trillion dollar spending bill enacted into law last week makes a nod toward the first viewpoint. It bans the federal government from spending money to enforce the phaseout of the familiar incandescent bulb.

This makes Tea Party activists happy. Getting the government out of Americans' lighting fixtures has been one of their persistent demands. But it might have come too late to make much difference. A bipartisan 2007 law, signed by President George W. Bush, has been pushing up energy efficiency standards and pushing out the old-style light bulbs for the past two years.

Traditional bulbs convert only one-tenth of the electricity they use into light; the rest is wasted. Energy-saving rules made the old 100-watt bulb obsolete in January 2012, followed by the 75-watt last year and the 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs this month.

You can still find the old-style bulbs, but inventory is dwindling. Bulb makers and retailers have largely moved on. So have most consumers, according to polls.

True, affection for traditional bulbs is strong, and the first replacements were hard to love. They were expensive and slow to warm up. Some produced light that people found unpleasant. Competition and innovation have fixed most problems, including the price. Squiggly compact fluorescents, or CFLs, that once cost as much as $35 a bulb now commonly sell for about $2 or less.

LEDs are still more expensive but even more efficient, and those who want their old-style bulbs can buy modified incandescents virtually indistinguishable — except that they use about a quarter less electricity.

And that's the point. The new bulbs may cost more, but they use so much less power and last so much longer that they pay for themselves. Over all, switching to new bulbs could save the electricity produced by 30 power plants — enough to power every home in Texas, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

To read more, click here.

How the Great Rare-Earth Metals Crisis Vanished

Joseph Sternberg

Wall Street Journal

There was a time, not so long ago, when the world feared China was going to use its dominance of the global rare-earth-element industry to crush Western economies and militaries in a strategic vise. Those were the days. Recent developments highlight how wrong those alarmist predictions were.

Rare earths are the metals at the bottom of the periodic table that are exceptionally useful in many high-tech applications, from lasers to solar panels to electric car batteries to smartphones. China is the world's major extractor and only processor of rare-earth ores.

Beijing aroused worries in late 2010 when it apparently limited exports of the minerals to Japan amid a territorial dispute. The episode stoked fears that China would use its sole-supplier status for nefarious ends.

Except that it turns out Beijing doesn't have the wherewithal to execute such a dastardly plan. Consider the new plan Beijing unveiled last week to consolidate its rare-earth industry into six large extraction and processing companies. As a start, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Company (yes, that's its name) is buying nine of its smaller competitors in the north, with more mergers and acquisitions to come.

This is at least the second time in roughly a decade that Beijing has attempted rare-earth rationalization. The first foundered when faced by opposition that included the local officials who so often sponsor projects away from Beijing's watchful gaze.

The consolidation drive is a sign of weakness, not strength. The impetus is Beijing's need to resolve the problems its past interventions in the market have created.

Export restrictions kicked in three years ago, officially justified by the need to reduce the pollution caused by mining and processing. Global prices rose dramatically, creating an incentive for new miners to start production, and an opportunity for them to profit from circumventing export blocks via endemic smuggling.

Meanwhile, Beijing's economic stimulus policies lowered the cost of credit, making it easier to fund this investment. But once the global panic subsided and demand slackened, rare-earth prices fell by as much as 60% from their 2011 peaks. Oversupply is the new worry.

On a related note, the export restrictions also have not helped Beijing mitigate the environmental damage caused by the rare-earth industry. Processing the ores is messy work, and Beijing seems to have hoped that whatever other mercantilist objective it might achieve, limiting export quantities would also lead to a cleanup of the industry at home.

Not so, because the restrictions stimulated new mining by small, illegal operators with even worse environmental practices than the big companies. Now lower global prices and the resulting thinner profit margins make costly environmental compliance that much harder.

Don't suppose for a minute that centrally arranged consolidation will solve any of this, since consolidation doesn't fix the underlying problem with China's approach to rare earths: Beijing still steadfastly refuses to allow the market to operate. Just ask yourself, when is the last time that politically allocated capital; administrative controls on price, production, export or other disposition of an output; and centrally determined corporate structures resulted in a rational industry, in China or anywhere else?

For guidance on better options, Beijing could look abroad...for more, click here.

Light bulb law brings many changes, options - Idaho Statesman

incandescent light bulb ban in Idaho

As the last of the federal government’s new lighting standards takes effect, the sort of general-service light bulb we’ve used for more than a century can no longer be made in or imported to the United States.

What does that mean for you?

On the plus side, it means more choices and smaller electric bills. On the minus side, it means an end to dirt-cheap light bulbs and grab-and-go bulb shopping. Now you need to read labels.

The new lighting standards, part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, were intended to make light bulbs more efficient and reduce the amount of energy needed to power them. They’ve done that, but they’ve also left some consumers confused in the face of all the choices in the lighting aisle.

This is the third step in the change to more efficient forms of lighting. The first step, in 2012, targeted 100-watt bulbs; it was followed last year by the elimination of traditional 75-watt bulbs.

Although the lighting law has commonly been called a ban on incandescent light bulbs, lighting experts say that’s inaccurate. The law doesn’t ban incandescent bulbs; it only requires them to be more energy-efficient.

What’s more, the law doesn’t affect all incandescent light bulbs, just general-service bulbs — pear-shaped bulbs with a medium base, the kind that for years were used most commonly in the home. A whole lot of bulbs are exempt, including three-way bulbs, 150-watt bulbs and bulbs with narrower candelabra bases that are often used in chandeliers.

But consumers have essentially three choices: compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED bulbs and halogen bulbs.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, are long-lasting and stingy on energy use and relatively inexpensive. But they have features some people don’t like, including the inclusion of a tiny amount of mercury.

LED bulbs are illuminated by light-emitting diodes. They last for decades but they’re still fairly expensive.

Halogen bulbs are the most like the old familiar incandescent bulbs.


How do you choose one that’s right for you? Here’s some guidance: click here to read more...

The year of LEDs and energy efficiency improvements

As we look back, there has been quite bit of change in the lighting world, as we continue to see LEDs gaining traction both in the news and in terms of installations. In fact, Alloway Lighting installed more LEDs in 2015 than in all previous years combined. While the main LED type we installed was in sockets to replace old incandescent light bulbs, we also saw growth in the installation of LED fixtures, particularly for exterior lighting. The increase in LEDs is due to several factors including improved light output, reduced long term maintenance costs due to increased lifespan and significant Idaho Power incentives for those who make the conversion. They have become very viable solutions in many applications and we are seeing them used much more on new construction projects, most notably the new Meridian Village complex.

Heritage Reflections showroom LEDs

LEDs are not the only technology that has seen growth. With the advances in LEDs, other technologies have had to step up and improve their performance. Most notably, HID technology has improved to compete head to head with LEDs. These technologies perform well, are less expensive than LEDs and are supported by Idaho Power. These include long life HIDs and ceramic metal halides. Both technologies offer long life, great energy saving at a lower cost. These technologies are being used in lighting retrofits or upgrades, primarily in exterior fixtures.

Even some older technologies are being used on new projects. In the new airport parking garage, induction fixtures were installed. Induction lighting is a fluorescent technology that has been around for more than 20 years. The garage is a good application for induction, as induction is a long lasting (100,000 hrs) lamp that saves significant energy over HIDs and is less expensive than LEDs.

In terms of traditional light sources like fluorescent linear lamps, the older T12 fluorescent lamp continues to be a target for upgrading and we are installing more lower wattage lamps in an effort to achieve greater energy savings. Alloway  Lighting is at the forefront of all the new technologies and is the leader in the Treasure Valley for lighting efficiency projects and lighting related supplies. We understand the various options, costs and incentives of the various technologies and can talk to you about the pro and cons of each. No other company has our expertise. We also made purchasing lighting products easier for our customers with the creation of a customer-specific website that lets our customers customize their shopping cart so they always purchase the right product for the right location. Our website was designed with the customer in mind and no other lighting companies provide a comparable service in the local industry.

The lighting industry has changed more in the last ten years than it had in the previous 50. The technology is changing rapidly and making impressive improvements. Energy savings are at the forefront of the change and provide tangible benefits to customers. We appreciate the support of our customers in Idaho and are glad to be able to serve this great community. The Alloway Lighting team thanks you for your business and we look forward to serving you in the future.

Built in Britain: You will be hearing more of LED lighting firm PhotonStar

With factories in South Wales and Hampshire, PhotonStar designs, makes and tests professional and commercial LED light fittings in the UK, and is about to enter the consumer world with a wirelessly colour-tuneable LED light bulb, branded Halcyon.

“PhotonStar has a commitment to UK manufacture at a time when most LED products are manufactured in Asia,” said the firm. “Our products are modular and designed to be assembled with minimal labour.”

The light bulbs came out of an effort to see what was possible once a microprocessor is embedded in a light source, and early on it became obvious that such sources would have to be wirelessly controlled, company marketing director Fenella Frost told Electronics Weekly.

This is not the only wireless development within PhotonStar. For CES 2013 it worked with transceiver chip firm CSR to demonstrate a Bluetooth lighting system where smartphones and tablets were used as controllers.

Light mixing in the forthcoming bulbs is based on a professional colour-tuneable technology the firm calls ChromaWhite – which uses multiple different coloured and white LEDs ... to read more click here.

Happy Halloween: Toddler LED Costume Will Make You Smile

Don't Let Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Get You Down This Winter

Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD? Many people do, especially those of us who live in northern climates.

SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, usually starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. SAD has been called many different names including cabin fever, winter blues and dark days. Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common, but treatable disorder.

Common treatments for seasonal affective disorder include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy, supplements and medications.

Alloway Lighting sells two popular and reputable light therapy lamps; The Verilux HappyLight® Deluxe energy lamp and the Verilux HappyLight® 6000 energy lamp. We also stock replacement bulbs for these lamps and assist our customers with any manufacturer warranty issues that may arise.

Verilux HappyLight® Deluxe energy lamp                                Verilux HappyLight® 6000 energy lamp

Verilux HappyLight® Deluxe energy lamp                     Verilux HappyLight® 6000 energy lamp

The Mayo Clinic website states, "Light therapy is a way to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by exposure to artificial light. During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, easing SAD symptoms."

"Light therapy is one of the first line treatments for seasonal affective disorder. It generally starts working in two to four days and causes few side effects. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving seasonal affective disorder symptoms."

"Before you purchase a light therapy box or consider light therapy, talk to your doctor or mental health provider to make sure it's a good idea and to make sure you're getting a high-quality light therapy box."


Check out our annual light therapy letter we send to health professionals each year and our Verilux HappyLight® flyer for more information.


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