To Leave Your Lights On, Or Turn Them Off? — An Enlightening Answer

by Katy on July 7, 2008 · 1 comment

Here’s the never-ending electrical dilemma:

When leaving a room for just a short period of time, should you turn the lights off or leave them on?

Some will argue to always turn off bulbs,  even if a room will be re-entered in the near future.

Others counter to leave them on, because they believe it takes more energy to restart a bulb than to simply leave it on.

Opinions are curiously strong on this subject, almost as bad as the toilet paper roll dilemma. (spin over, or under?)

Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” television show addressed this issue from a scientific standpoint.

Here’s what they came up with:

“Hypothesis: The “start up” burst of energy consumed more energy than leaving the lights on continually.

Procedure/Experimental Design: The MythBusters test common type of lightbulbs: incandecent, flourescent, metal hylide, and even an LED.

Results: Even with the flourescent bulb having the largest start-up surge, needing to be off for 23 seconds before it is more energy efficient to leave it off, it is still a small amount of time before it is more energy efficient to leave them off.

Conclusion: It is better to turn the lights off when leaving the room even for a brief instant.”

So there you have it.

Turn your lights off unless you are coming back within 23 seconds.

For me though, I am highly distractible and likely to find something to prevent my 23 second return. (A shiny pebble or juicy e-mail perhaps?)

The toilet paper direction debate? Finer minds than mine have failed to bring consensus, so I’ll just have to leave this one to those fancy-schmancy think tank folks.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sarah July 8, 2008 at 8:39 am

Toilet paper debate? Want to produce even less waste? Use a bidet.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: