Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

August 8, 2009

Philips Halogena Review: Same Light, A Little Less Energy

Category: Green Reviews,Household,Save Electricity – Tom Harrison – 12:12 pm

philips-halogena-r20Philips “Halogena” bulbs are not CFLs — they are incandescent bulbs that use less electricity than standard bulbs, and they work exactly like the bulbs they replace. They claim to last about 20% longer, also. Halogena bulbs cost more, about $3 more, per bulb in my case.

I could see no difference in performance compared to incandescent: they start instantly, have nice bright light at full power, nice warm light as they dim, and they dim continuously with no buzzing, the bulb looks the same and fits.

I would have preferred to use CFL bulbs: compared to standard incandescent Halogena bulbs use about 1/3 less electricity; CFLs use 4 to five times less. CFLs also last a great deal longer, even than Halogena’s modest 500 hour improvement. So Halogena are an incremental improvement.

But as per the mission of this blog: saving energy and conservation is a matter of a lot of small steps that add up to big, big savings.

Where It Makes Sense to Use Halogena Bulbs

Sadly, I have not yet found a dimmable CFL bulb in the special R20 and BR30 sizes of our kitchen and living room ceiling fixtures … or should I say I haven’t found one that is any good.

If anyone knows of an R20, BR30, or PAR30 CFL bulb that fits a standard ceiling fixture, dims fairly well (without buzzing), and maintains a warm color temperature, please let me know. The R20’s need to produce light about 500 lumens, the BR30 or PAR30’s need to produce about 600 lumens. LED light bulbs would be fine, too as long as it’s not too expensive.

So I conditionally recommend Philips Halogena energy saving bulbs to replace only bulbs that cannot be CFLs.

With only several remaining exceptions, every other bulb in our house is a CFL. In most applications, CFLs are great. Our basement, including the finished part, is great; outdoor floods and the lights in our garage, reading lamps, desk lamps, standing lamps, hanging lamps and so on, all use CFL. Some use the GE EnergySmart brand I settled on in my CFL test and review last year. Others use ones I installed as long ago as 4 or 5 years — still going strong.

CFL is great for most applications … just not all.

Energy Cost Savings

If you replace bulbs with equivalent light output, the Halogena bulbs in general save at least 30% in energy costs. The two bulb types I am using now each save a little more than that based on their rated wattage. Based on my electricity rate, I have calculated that each 100W saved over the course of a year saves me a bit less than $200 — it may be less in other parts of the country, as we have higher than usual electricity rates in Massachusetts. Our rate is $0.22/kWh — so ten 100W bulbs on for an hour cost 22 cents.

I replaced 7 bulbs in the kitchen (R20), and 7 in the living room (BR30). Total cost was $145, compared to about $85 for standard (assuming longer life). So I have to make up $60. We have the kitchen bulbs on for about 2 hours a day (more when it’s dark outside, less when light); we have the living room lights on far less, say 1 hour a day. The kitchen bulbs use 35W less than the ones they replace; the LR bulbs use 25W less. So how many kWh did my old bulbs use per year?

  • Kitchen: 7 bulbs saving 35W for 2 hours for 365 days = 179 kWh * $0.22/kWh = $39/year saved, and
  • Living Room: 7 bulbs saving 25W for 1 hour for 365 days = 64 kWh * $0.22/kWh = $14/year saved.

Total Annual Savings, Payback Period, and Assumptions

  • Grand Total: $53/year saved, so payback is just over a year.

This assumes you replace the lights as the old ones burn out, and you replace bulbs with ones of the same light output. (In my case, neither was true, although most of the bulbs had been in place for several years at least). The kitchen bulbs were actually 50W (not 75W) so my savings would be less, however the living room bulbs were 120W (!!), not 75W so that savings would be more. The math works out about the same.

One last assumption: we’ll use the lights the same amount now. I think this one is important: knowing that we use less energy, will we be more inclined to use the lights than in the past? This is a big issue, in fact. Look at cars: as manufacturers learned how to make more efficient engines, they made the engine more powerful instead of using less gasoline — even some hybrid vehicles used this trick. So if you replace light bulbs, don’t get sloppy with turning them off!

IF there were CFL bulbs that were suitable, the savings calculated above would have been based on an 80% savings. 75W of incandescent light requires about 15W in a CFL, a savings of 60W. Here are those (fictitious, but hopeful) numbers:

  • Kitchen: 7 bulbs saving 60W for 2 hours for 365 days = 307 kWh * $0.22/kWh = $67/year saved, and
  • Living Room: 7 bulbs saving 60W for 1 hour for 365 days = 153 kWh * $0.22/kWh = $34/year saved, for a total of $101/year.

Either way, a little savings add up over time. If you’re inclined to try, here’s a link to buy online from Amazon.


  1. a broad line of dimmable cfls are available at these are the Neptun brand and tend to be the best on the market. They also use amalgam instead of liquid mercury which makes them safer and more reliable.

    Comment by Mark — August 8, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  2. Mark —

    I checked out the site — I do think I tried this brand (Neptun), but it could have been an earlier generation of bulbs, and the selection is very good (both R20 and PAR30, and actually also dimmable candelabra bulbs, which look cool).

    I hadn’t heard about amalgam (same stuff the dentist puts in fillings?) — it’s a great concept, as the fear of liquid mercury is certainly an issue with some buyers.


    Comment by Tom Harrison — August 11, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  3. Would love to get a follow-up on your Philips Halogena bulbs to hear if you still like them, if there was any early retirement of the bulbs, your general thoughts after a year of use.

    Comment by Peter — October 18, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  4. Peter —

    The Philips Halogena bulbs are performing identically to standard incandescents in every way I can detect, other than using a little less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs. All are still working, but we certainly wouldn’t expect to have used anywhere near their rated life-span in only a year.

    I am still seeking a dimmable CFL that fits the R-20 or PAR-30 (or PAR-38) fixtures that I have and works well. I still haven’t found one. Excellent LED alternatives are now available, but their cost is still prohibitive for a typical home owner.

    I welcome suggestions from anyone who has found a good dimmable R-20, PAR-30 or PAR-38 CFL that fits standard fixture dimensions.


    Comment by Tom Harrison — October 19, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  5. Oh, also reading the comments, I did get a chance to test the Neptun bulbs in a number of applications. They were terrible. Initial results with one bulb were encouraging, but then after I got a few more I found that in several cases two of the same kind/specification of bulbs performed differently. The amalgam idea seemed neat, but it causes the warm-up time to be significantly longer (warm up is a result of having to vaporize a super-tiny bit of mercury — having the metal encased in amalgam makes that time longer).

    That was a major disappointment for me.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — October 19, 2010 @ 8:27 am

  6. Like you, I have tried CFLs for this application. In addition to high cost,short life, and inadequate light, they are relatively heavy for the fixtures these are used in. After spending a fortune on four different R20 dimmable CFLs (which mercifully died rather quickly…one within a week), I have settled on these Halogenas as my light of choice for the applications you describe. Perhaps the LEDs will come along soon but the CFLs I have tried are inappropriate for where we have our R20 bulbs.

    Comment by Douglas Lee — December 24, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

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