CELEBRATE EARTH HOUR TODAY

voteearth_enEarth Hour is being sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to bring attention to the growing problem of global warming and its adverse effects on the planet. Even though we’re a lighting company, we urge you to show your support and make a statement by turning off your non-essential indoor and outdoor lights between the hours of 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM. This will help decrease your carbon footprint slightly but more importantly it will show your symbolic support for this global iniative.

In downtown Denver, the State Capitol, the Denver City and County building, and several skyscrapers will go dark during this time. Over 4,000 cities worldwide are participating this year. By comparison, only 400 cities were involved last year. From the pyramids in Egypt to the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, all of these well-known structures will have their outdoor lighting dim or be turned off completely during this period.

As an outoor lighting contractor, we are already committed to energy efficiency and conservation. The good news is that outdoor lighting and landscape lighting we install for residential applications is either low-voltage quartz halogen (12-volts) or low-voltage LED (light-emitting diode). On commercial applications where line voltage (120-volts) is required because of loads and distances, we still employ very energy-efficient 39W to 70W ceramic metal halide bulbs.  So what makes our lighting systems green? Please read the following:

Low Voltage Lighting. Every outdoor lighting system we install is low voltage rather than line voltage. Our outdoor lighting system transformers are designed to reduce the standard 120-volt line voltage used throughout homes to low voltage 12-volt electricity, which powers our outdoor lighting systems. In otherwords, 12 volts of power run from the low voltage transformer through the wire to the low-wattage bulbs mounted in the lighting fixtures. Our lighting systems provide energy efficiency while illuminating your home and property with soft, ambient accent lighting. In addition, our professionally designed low voltage lighting systems are precisely bright enough to illuminate a home’s exterior and landscaping, at a cost about 50- to 60-percent less to operate than with a standard 120-volt outdoor lighting system. To further enhance energy conservation, our low voltage lighting fixtures are strategically placed to highlight the key features of the architecture or landscaping, so that the light is not “wasted” by just flooding an entire area. And sometimes if not done properly, the light can spill into a neighbor’s yard and this is called light trespass.

Low voltage LEDs can save even more energy than low voltage quartz halogen systems but the initial investment cost is much higher. We’ll have information about our LED lighting systems in a future blog.

Heavier-Gauge Wire. The heavier the gauge of wire used in electrical systems, the less energy is lost as current travels through it. We use 12-, 10-, and 8-gauge wire in our lighting systems, with the 12-gauge wire being used primarily in residential installations. Also, voltage loss increases as more fixtures (or higher loads) are connected to a single wire run. To prevent this, we construct our systems with multiple wire runs and multitap transformers with output voltages ranging between 12-volts and 22-volts.

Choice of Lamps (Bulbs). Rather than incandescent bulbs, we use low-voltage quartz halogen bulbs (4,000 hour life), low-voltage LED (50,000 hour life), or line voltage CMH (ceramic metal halide – 15,000 hour life bulbs for commercial applications). All of our bulbs also incorporate reflectors which help to brighten and focus the resulting light without having to use higher wattage bulbs.

Control Technology. Our company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado, recommends the use of control technology to automatically turn on and off necessary indoor and outdoor lighting on the interior and exterior of the house. The control system we use is Lighting Control Automation(TM) (LCA). With this system, the latitude and longitude of the house is programmed into the controller (and on a daily basis any time of year) the lights will come on at exactly astronomical sunset – not two hours before or an hour late. This system eliminates the energy wasted by the old-technology timer/photocell systems; invariably the photocell becomes shaded and the lights turn on too soon or the mechanical timer ends up being three hours out of synch because of power failures.

In addition, the LCA system can be used to automatically dim exterior architectural carriage lights, porch lights, soffit lights, and/or garage lights by 20- to 40- percent for additional energy savings. Interior lights can be integrated into this system as well for more energy savings. In addition to automatic control, any of these “intelligent” lights on the interior or exterior can be manually controlled from inside the house for even more energy savings.

So tonight, celebrate Earth Hour and if you already own a low voltage outdoor lighting system or a whole-house lighting control system, give yourself a pat on the back for helping to reduce your carbon footprint on the planet!

Best regards,

Mead Noss

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