Electric lighting accounts for approximately 25 percent of all the energy used in buildings in the U.S. Some of this lighting takes more energy than necessary. Short of turning the lights off, one way to cut back on this energy consumption is to install fluorescent lights in place of incandescent or halogen lighting. If you are using T12 lights in your establishment, making the switch to T8 fluorescent lighting will save the most in energy and money.
The Basics of a Fluorescent Light
The fluorescent light is constructed of a tube-shaped lamp with a chemical phosphor coating on the inside of the tube. The output of light and color are controlled by components called ballasts.
T8 vs T12 Lights
T12 and T8 refer to diameters of lamp tubes. Thus a T12 lamp has a diameter of twelve eighths of an inch, or 1-1/2 inches. Typically, a narrower lamp is more energy-efficient. Since the T8 is eight eighths of an inch, or one inch in diameter, it is a more energy-efficient lighting mechanism than the T12. T-8 lamps are available in a variety of lengths, and they also come in either straight or U-shaped lamps.
Fluorescent light bulbs also have an adverse affect on the environment. T8 and T12 lights are both created with mercury, a harmful element that can move into lakes, streams and estuaries once airborne. When mercury enters these bodies of water, it can affect the fish population, thus disrupting the health of the fish-eating food chain.
Fluorescent Lights & Mercury
Top-quality T8 lamps function with reduced mercury. Although recycling is still recommended after the lamps are spent, T8 lamps are generally more sustainable than T12 variety. For lighting with no mercury content whatsoever, check out LED lighting.
Where to Recycle Fluorescent Bulbs
Recycling fluorescent bulbs prevents the release of harmful mercury into the environment. Recycling centers also break down bulbs to reuse glass, metal and any other materials that can be re-purposed for future use. Find a recycling center for your fluorescent bulbs by visiting the site earth911.com.
The Benefits of Retrofitting from T12 to T8
Let’s review the bottom line of retrofitting your fluorescent lighting from T12 bulbs to T8 bulbs.
- Retrofitting lamps is cost-effective and easy to do
- Transitioning usually costs about $20 per lamp, parts and labor included
- Installing T8 bulbs usually results in a five to seven year payback period in a commercial setting
- If you cannot upgrade all at once, upgrade as old T12 lamps burn out