February 2018 EnergyWiseSM Tip: Lumen Depreciation


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and my sweetheart will ensure I endure six more weeks of winter if I forget. But what if you’re strapped for cash after lavishly tending to your loved one’s Christmas wish list? Well, don’t worry. I have the perfect, potentially cost-free gift in mind that still communicates “You are the light of my life!” After all, how could offsetting the nasty effects of lumen depreciation in your sweetie’s world NOT brighten their day?!

What is lumen depreciation? Simply, it is the decrease in lighting output that occurs over the life of a light fixture or bulb. Like a chronic disease, it comes on slowly. Without notice, illumination levels gradually dim. Before you know it, your dearest experiences eye strain and difficulty reading small print. As it continues, headaches and decreased productivity result. If left unchecked, poor lighting can even usher in accidents and depression.

Here’s where you become your love’s hero without emptying out your next-of-kin’s inheritance. First, know that some light loss factors are "recoverable." These include lamp burnouts, lamp lumen depreciation, fixture (luminaire) dirt depreciation and room surface dirt depreciation.

Lamp Burnouts

When a lamp or bulb expires, it becomes a "burnout." This sounds fairly simple. But, if the entire light fixture has numerous lamps or if the fixture has a shade or translucent panel, globe, lens, etc., you may not have noticed the burnout. On behalf of your loved one, take time to investigate all your fixtures. And, if you come across a burnout? Well, simply replace it with a highly efficient LED lamp!

Lamp Lumen Depreciation

As lamps age, they produce less and less light on a predictable curve, the extent of which depends on the type of lamp. In the home, fluorescent lamps tend to be the worst. By the end of their life, output can drop lower than 80 percent of their original rating. Don’t leave your honey in the dark! Replace old, dim lamps with new ones. If possible, use a permanent marker to write the installation on the lamp or bulb’s base.

This will help you determine whether you are getting the hours of life and anticipated light output you expect!

Fixture (Luminaire) Dirt Depreciation

Dirt and dust are inevitable, and particles are often attracted to and trapped in electrical equipment. Even if fixtures are cleaned every 18 months, dirt buildup can reduce light output by 10 percent between cleanings. This is a simple fix. Get your cleaning rags, soap and water, glass cleaner, etc., and get to  work. (Don’t forget to switch the light “off” first.) And, don’t forget about all those dead bugs lying in the bottom glass of your ceiling fixtures! You know, the ones that have been there since the first freeze last fall? Nothing says, “You’re my love bug!” like cleaning the dead ones out of your light fixtures.

Room Surface Dirt Depreciation

Since you already have the cleaning rags out for the step above, don’t stop there! Dust and other contaminants will build up on light-reflecting walls, floors, tables, countertops and other surfaces. These surfaces will become dirty over time and will not reflect light as they used to. Restore their reflective power by cleaning.

Don’t be a dimwit this Valentine’s Day and blow through a bunch of money like Cupid at an archery sale! Compensate for your sweetie’s lumen depreciation by taking these simple steps. I promise both of you will be enlightened!

For additional ideas on how you can reduce the effects of lumen depreciation and save energy while illuminating your home, contact your local electric utility or visit www.nppd.com. You may even find you are eligible for incentives for helping with the cost of other energy-saving home improvements.

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