Do Dimmers Save Money?

May 01, 2016

Do dimmers save money? Yes they do, in more ways than one. Early dimmers dissipated energy not used in the bulbs. They did not save energy. Today’s dimmers actually cut back on the flow of energy to the bulb, saving both energy and a bit of money. But the real savings come in increasing bulb life. An incandescent bulb relies on the heating of the filament to produce light. A side effect of that heat is the gradual evaporation of the filament, eventually weakening it to the point of breaking, rendering the bulb non-functional...burnt out. By reducing the flow of electricity to the filament, the temperature is lowered, slowing the evaporation rate. The bulb lasts longer. In fact, a dimmer left set at 80% of full brightness increases the life of the bulb by a factor of 400%, or four times as long. Increased bulb life delivers the real cost savings. Utilizing a dimmer can reduce the cost of maintaining a bulb by 75% or more. With the continued development of LED sources, the cost of energy to light a space has been greatly reduced, but the lighting equipment can be more expensive. So here the real savings are in prolonging the life of the LED lighting element.

Most who use dimmers do not know about the cost savings angle. They choose dimmers in key areas to gain lighting versatility, allowing different levels of light for different functions. Night lighting, mood lighting, and task lighting are all realized from the same fixtures with dimmers. Even table and floor lamps can utilize dimmers to expand light level control. Lutron offers a very easy-to-use dimmer that plugs into the receptacle and then accepts the plug from the lamp. Almost every type of residential lighting can be dimmed, some more cost effectively than others. Consult your lighting professional for more information.

The technology in dimming continues to evolve at breathtaking speed. From the simple toggle dimmer to the complex radio controlled whole house system, todays dimmer offers better control, better savings, and better pricing than ever before. Systems equipped with a vacation mode can turn lighting off and on when the home owners are absent, emulating the patterns of light usage when the space is occupied. And automatic shades can be integrated into the system, allowing even more light control.

The rapid progress evident in switching technology has overcome many challenges from the past. With the introduction of radio controlled dimmers, virtual three-way switching is now achievable, eliminating the need to run additional wiring in an existing structure. If you have a switching problem, don’t give up. Check with a pro.