What’s the most energy-efficient kind of light?

Grist

Q.Does it save energy to burn candles instead of running an eco-bulb? I currently have one 18W compact fluorescent in my lounge. Please don’t say this is a burning question.

Dave C.
Dunedin

A. Dearest Dave,

Working, reading, or relaxing by candlelight? It certainly sets an agreeable ambiance. And they say a young Abraham Lincoln studied every night by a candle’s flickering flame, so you’d be in excellent company. But does replacing a flick of the switch with a light of the wick really bring environmental enlightenment?

To answer your question, we must turn to math (and a little conjecture). Let’s start with your 18W CFL bulb, already a respectable choice in the energy efficiency department. And let’s say we’re talking about two hours per night spent kicking back in your lounge. Using this handy formula from the Department of Energy, we can determine that shining that one bulb…

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