Does using a dimmer switch affect the cost of electricity?

light - light bulb
@polachicago (19145)
United States
January 17, 2008 8:17pm CST
I was told by electrician that using dimmers will not save electricity cost. He said that dimmers are only for ambience… I like ambience, but I would like to save electricity as well. Is my electrician right?
7 people like this
22 responses
@zeloguy (4915)
• United States
26 Jan 08
Florescent Light Bulb - Light bulb of the compact florescent variety
ALL of the bulbs in my house are flourecent bulbs. A 65 watt bulb is reduced to approximately 12-14 watts. You can burn a flourescent bulb 5X longer for the same price. Now I don't mind if a light is left on 'cause I know it is not going to kill me when my electric bill comes. And for 2007 I had 2 bills that were just over $50... all the others were under $50/month. Of course the two months were July/August and in Florida you can expect higher bills in the summer. FYI, you CANNOT dim these bulbs.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
26 Jan 08
I have those. Not many, but some. I have to re-design it all, because my bills are to high...
@zeloguy (4915)
• United States
26 Jan 08
Bulbs can cut your energy bill quite a bit but there some other things to consider. First, the #1 thing that makes energy is heat... so where there is heat there is energy being used. The water heater is usually the biggest culprit for using the most electricity in the home. If you do NOT use a dishwasher 120 degrees should be fine if you do then 140 degrees should be the temperature you want to set it on. Second. Do your own dishes... see #1. Third. Wash clothes in Cold/Cold water. If there is a stain in clothing that needs hot water (grass/mud/etc...) wash that stain by hand seperately. Fourth. Make sure when you wash and dry clothes, the washer/dryer is full before doing so. Fifth. Make sure lint screen on dryer is empty. Sixth. Make sure your computer AND monitor have a sleep mode turned on. This can reduce between 100-200 watts of continuous power being used. If put in sleep mode my computer goes from 100 watts to 13 watts (including router and cable modem still being on). Set a monitor to turn to standby/sleep after 2 minutes and the computer after 1 hour of inactivity Seventh. Make sure the setting on your refrigerator and freezer are set properly. The refrigerator should be set to 40 degrees or less. Mine is set at 38 degrees to compensate for doors opening etc. The freezer should be set no lower than 0. Eighth. Make sure all windows and doors are tight. If they are not use a towel to prevent the loss of heat. Ninth. Use the microwave. Although it uses a lot of power it does so in short bursts and therefore there is no need to keep an oven hot for a long period of time. If/when you use the oven, use the convection feature (if it has one) which can cut time to preheat and to cook food. Tenth. Turn down the thermostat. Turning the temperature down in your house just 2 degrees can make a significant difference in your heating bill. Obviously this does not get into buying Energy Efficient devices, insulation, summertime tips (air conditioning, fans, etc...). As you can see I am a FREAK about energy. When I bought my 50" television, the factory settings were using almost 400watts of electric. With tweaking it, it is down to 140 and the picture looks just fine. That may be for another post ;)
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
27 Jan 08
thank you, very helpful tips... I wish to give you second best respond....
1 person likes this
@vanities (11320)
• Davao, Philippines
27 Jan 08
i think it depend on the wattages used on the light..if one specific light was designed for a dimmer outcome but using same wattages as the ordinary then it will not save the electricity cost...you must inquire/ aware on the wattages consumption before buying one...the lesser wattage output the lesser the cost...
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
27 Jan 08
I think this is the key...
@pyewacket (43945)
• United States
18 Jan 08
I was looking around for that answer..think your electrician is right...that it's just an ambience effect..it will make the bulb last longer though the dimmer you have it--so in other words...only by having the light completely off will you save on electricity--though I did got a bit conflicting info...the first suggests that you only save on the bulb's "life" while the second source says yes, you do save electricity therefore money...guess time will tell on that new electric bill..right? (First source) HOW DO DIMMERS SAVE ENERGY ? When the light is off, no energy is being used. The longer the triac is off, the lower the light output, and the greater the energy savings. Lutron Dimmers Pay for Themselves: Dimming the lights Saves electricity Makes incandescent bulbs last longer 10% 10% 2 times longer 25% 20% 4 times longer 50% 40% 20 times longer 75% 60% 20 times longer Here's the link http://www.lutron.com/product_technical/FAQ.asp#OLE_LINK2 (second source) Energy-Saving Idea #3: Dim the lights. Dimmer switches are a wonderful convenience people have long enjoyed. They conserve electricity—up to 50 percent off the lighting portion of your electricity bill—and they extend the life of your bulbs up to 20 times. Dimmers can be used with existing incandescent bulbs. http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:vC63ZyNB2LsJ:www.napsnet.com/pdf_archive/109/49581.pdf+do+dimmers+save+on+electricity&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us&client=firefox-a
1 person likes this
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
I was on line for over 2 hours and I get all confusing information too. In one source they say it saves bulbs in other that it saves electricity... My switch claim to save money. Because I did not see saving,I start to question. This is my system. I feel like I am saving only on bulbs.... http://www.3bmsmartswitch.ca/index.htm
@gabs8513 (48828)
• United Kingdom
18 Jan 08
I have to be honest I always thought that it saved electricity but I am not sure I thought it did because if the Lights are dim they should not use as much electricity Now I am not sure and I don't know
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
I like to have dimmer lights all over the house, but it cost a lot...
• United States
8 Feb 08
Thank you Mohndo....I am tuned to PolaChicago when it comes to ambience. Can't really have romantic environment w/o ambience. I'm an old hippy so I like colored lighting to so I am willing to pay the extra pennies on the few occasions I have to be romantic. Believe me, I won't go broke. I am behind the whole green push though. I believe we can help to reduce the strain on old mother earth.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
8 Feb 08
Thank you, sweet respond...:)
@Ohara_1983 (4124)
• Kuwait
27 Jan 08
wow, i dont have any knowledge about it, im just using a normal flourecent bulb, then close them when i dont need a light thats the way how i save electricity anyway:)
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
27 Jan 08
we are always learning, don't we?
• Kuwait
27 Jan 08
ypur right, we always learn
@Lakota12 (42794)
• United States
18 Jan 08
sounds about right even tho ya dont think it does help save you will still be using the sam wattage I have changed most of my bulb to those funny looking ones think they say they are neon and one that does about a 100 watts only uses 26 watts to run and I have seen a drop in my electric bill from them but it goes up when I have to use the heat or air lol now we need some kind of heat and air saving device!
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
I am looking for my own air turbine to produce energy, but I am not sure if my town will let me do it on my yard...
@Lakota12 (42794)
• United States
19 Jan 08
that you will have to check into might be something we all need to look into the way our power company keeps upping the bill
@ersmommy1 (12607)
• United States
18 Jan 08
CFLs are simply miniature versions of full-sized fluorescents. They screw into standard lamp sockets, and give off light that looks just like the common incandescent bulbs - not like the fluorescent lighting we associate with factories and schools.And you can save up to 20% on your electric bill.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
yes, but I am talking about dimmer SWITCH.... I have installed few and I want to know if I can save using dimmer light....
@zeloguy (4915)
• United States
26 Jan 08
Simple answer... as you dim a light bulb it uses less electricity but that is not the way to save electric. You would have to have a regular light bulb so dim you would not be able to see (about 30% of the output) instead of just installing compact florescent bulbs.
• United Arab Emirates
24 Sep 09
check this website to see more about our products (dimmers, relays, sensors etc.) which helps to conserve enery. http://www.smart-hdl.com
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
29 Sep 09
I already check all internet info....the reality is that new dimers are much better, but are taking more energy that I thought....
@HotTea (1)
• United States
3 Apr 09
In truth, the lower the dimmer is set, the MORE current is being pulled. Therefore, the lower the dimmer switch, the MORE electricity you are wasting. Small price to pay for ambiance! Just buy a smaller wattage lamp (bulb)
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
5 Apr 09
after talking to many people I know now that you are right...
@Debs_place (10551)
• United States
6 Feb 08
I did some research for you and found this Do dimmers on lighting fixtures reduce wattage and save money? -- Eldon McElhiney, Feb. 2003 Yes, they do. But compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs save even more money. A 25-watt CF bulb puts out as much light as a 100-watt regular bulb. If you used a dimmer on a 100-watt bulb to take it down to 25 watts, there wouldn't be much light. Most CF's can't be used with dimmer switches. If your fixture is controlled by a dimmer, then either read the package on the CF bulb to find one that works with a dimmer switch, or replace your dimmer switch with a regular switch. Note that old dimmers were rheostats which did NOT save electricity -- and they generated dangerous heat, to boot. I don't have any idea when they switched from rheostats to the modern solid state variety, but here's how you can see if yours is old or new: Turn off any device that could automatically turn itself on (like your AC and refrigerator). Turn on your light at full brightness. Look at your electric meter and write down how long it takes to make one revolution. Turn the dimmer down to about 25% brightness. Check your meter again. If it took longer for the meter to spin, then you have a modern dimmer which is saving energy. If the meter speed remained the same, then you have an old-style dimmer and turning it down doesn't save energy. In that case, replace your dimmer with a modern one. You can have an electrician do this for about $40 if you're not comfortable doing it yourself. By the way, even though modern dimmer switches save energy when you dim the lights, the lights dim more than the energy is decreased. That means if you make it half as bright, you don't save quite half as much energy. But this is really trivia, and you don't need to worry about it. If I turn my dimmer to the lowest setting/level (where there's no visible light) is it the same as turning it off? Is the switch turned off in both cases and hence not using any electricity? I find it easier just to turn down the dimmer but am not sure if it's still using electricity when at its lowest level. -- Anita Low, Dec 2003 As long as your dimmer isn't an ancient rheostat (see below) then turning it down so far that you can't see any light is the same as turning it off -- no energy use. (Well, there might be some energy use, but it will be so tiny as to be negligible. If you want to find out for sure you can turn off and unplug everything in your home except the dimmer and see if your electric meter is still moving. But I wouldn't worry about it.)
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
6 Feb 08
I have new fixture, so maybe it saves some. My dimmer is very new...and it is promising a lot... I still use it in moderation.
• United States
30 Jan 08
It depends on what type of dimmer you have. If you have a rheostat dimmer, the type were there is a series resitor, then you don't really save anything because you are actually just transferring the power dissipation from your lamp to your dimmer switch. But if you have the solid state dimmers, which use semiconductor switch (triac), they can save you depending on the brightness of your setting. The way they turn your lamp on and off at a very fast rate so as to modulate the brightness they emit. As such, power dissipation is not merely transferred, but eliminated altogether, except probably for the very minimal leakage current inherent in solid state devices. http Here is a nice site that explains it: http://www.lutron.com/product_technical/FAQ.asp
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
30 Jan 08
thank you, maybe I am saving with my new dimmers...
• United States
27 Jan 08
no a dimmer does not effect the cost of electric. as lond as you have the light on it is using electric. it doesnt matter if its bright or dim just on or off.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
27 Jan 08
I learned it hard way...he, he
@blackbriar (9095)
• United States
25 Jan 08
Think your electrician is right. Dimmers are just for when you don't want the room bright is all.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
25 Jan 08
Most people said that....
@crazynurse (7511)
• United States
18 Jan 08
Thank you for posting this discussion! I too, have wondered on many occassions if my use of a dimmer switch in two of our rooms was saving anything on our electric bill! It seems that a difinitive answer is escaping us! When I read the responses of those before me it seems that the jury is still out on this one! I will follow this discussion to see if anything difinitive turns up! Thanks again!
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
yes, this is still an open question if we save or not....
@TerryZ (22148)
• United States
18 Jan 08
Hi polachicago I use to have a dimmer switch in my dinning room. And I loved it. Like you said its a great ambience. We dont live in that house anymore and I do miss that ambience. I think your electrician is right it doesnt save on money. But I think its well worth it.LOL
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
yes, I have dimmers in every room, except bathrooms... It doesn't save electricity, not in my house for sure...
@ltmoon (1008)
• United States
18 Jan 08
P.S. You can't use a dimmer on a florescent bulb!!!
@Mondoh (148)
• United States
6 Feb 08
Yes U can, will say so on the package... New stuff, Home Depot, Loew's, online.. AC
@ltmoon (1008)
• United States
18 Jan 08
Your electrician is mostly right. In spite of all the tripe someone C&Ped into their response, dimmers do not really save you much money and actually shorten the life of the bulbs. A dimmed bulb draws a little less energy, but not in direct relation to the lower brightness. so...Dim your lights and enjoy the ambiance! The way to really reduce energy use and save money is to switch to the new curly-Q florescent bulbs. Without even changing your other lighting habits, switching all your bulbs will cut the lighting portion of your electric bill by 70-80% depending on the bulbs you use.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
Yes, I like ambiance....maybe I can have few Q bulbs for saving in my bathroom...
1 person likes this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
18 Jan 08
I don't know, but I would have thought the lower the light, the less power required. To me that's logic.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
It was my logic too, but it is not working this way...
@arkaf61 (10891)
• Canada
18 Jan 08
Hmm I never really thought about the dimmer in terms of saving electricity. I do have dimmers and I use them mostly for ambience. THe light is still on, even dimmed so I wouldn't think it would save in electricity.SO I"m guessing your electrician is right :) On the other hand I also use energy saving light bulbs, going by what I read about them, they do help since they spend less electricity.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
Yes, bulbs are saving for sure...dimmers are not...(if my electrician was right)
@LittleMel (14062)
• Canada
18 Jan 08
I'm not sure about dimmer. We have lamps that we can switch to dimmer and dimmest, still we pay the same amount every month. the best way to save electricity is to buy energy saving bulb. you can see the sign on the package when you go out and buy them.
@polachicago (19145)
• United States
18 Jan 08
I have energy saving bulbs already...I am still trill with dimmers....I have some with remote control...