Candlelight Power

January 1, 2008
photo by Bob.Fornal

Although candles were long ago replaced by electric bulbs for most of our lighting needs, we retain their use for decorative, aromative, and emergency functions. As the lights in the guest bathroom at my parent’s house are on the fritz, I “installed” a taper candle and barbeque lighter to retain use of our windowless bathroom. So far this system has been working passably, but I’m curious whether it reduces overall energy use or costs more than the existing fixture.

A candle typically produces about 13 lumens of visible light and 40 watts of heat, depending on the wick (according to Wikipedia) A 40 watt incandescent light bulb will give you 500 lumens for the same power. A compact fluorescent bulb will use about 20-25% of the power of the incandescent (also from Wikipedia) So candles are rightfully categorized as “decoration” and not as a viable energy-efficient lighting system.

But using a single candle to light a room raises questions about the amount of light we actually need. The fixture currently in the bathroom takes 3 bulbs, so we can estimate it provides 1500 lumens, but as evidenced above just 13 lumens provided enough light to negotiate the room.

Take a moment to evaluate your lighting needs and see if you could get by on less. It will save you energy and $$ in the long run.


One comment

  1. As a college student I foolishly consumed a lot of energy until I learned my lesson. When that high electricity bill came in, you can bet my roommates and I were scrounging for a way to save on energy costs.

    When you’re on your own for the first time, everything seems to be a luxury and you consumer without a moments notice. Until it comes to budget time and you find you’re dollars are allocated to the high costs of electricity, rent and everything else. There’s suddenly less left for luxury if anything at all.

    As for candles in the bathroom…hey, dim lighting is sexy.

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