Unitarian Universalists set standard for energy efficient lighting

Churches, temples, mosques, and other houses of faith often feature elaborate lighting fixtures that brighten places of worship, along with other energy-consuming apparatuses. The Wellesley Unitarian Universalist (UU) society recently joined the ranks of those houses of faith that choose sustainable alternatives to these consumptive accessories. Earlier this month, the UU’s Green Sanctuary Committee replaced the incandescent bulbs lighting the society’s parish hall with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The replacement included the upgrade of 60 bulbs across six chandeliers and was funded by a special plate collection at a Sunday service along with surplus committee funds. Choosing slightly more expensive dimmable bulbs, the UU purchased the 2700 kelvin bulbs for approximately $10 apiece on Amazon. The same bulbs are also available at lower pricing without the dimming feature.

Contrary to common assumption, LED bulbs do not only come in a blue or white color, an appearance the UU was looking to avoid. Depending on the color temperature of a bulb, measured in kelvin, an LED light can range in visual color from a yellow similar to that of an incandescent bulb (2700 kelvin) to a blue/white hue at 7500 kelvin.

“Changing the bulbs in these fixtures was a quick and easy way to help our church save money and energy,” said UU Green Sanctuary Committee member Lise Olney. “Some church members were worried that the bulb color wouldn’t be as pleasant as the incandescents, but we looked at several kinds of bulbs and found one that has a soft light that everyone seems to like. The key was to find the right LED for these particular fixtures.”

The new LEDs used by the UU are 5 watt bulbs instead of the previous 40 watt incandescent bulbs, resulting in a total reduction from 2,400 watts to 300 watts. Needless to say, the UU expects this reduction to result in a significant decrease in energy costs. The new LED bulbs are also expected to last for more than 20 years.

Switching to more energy efficient LED bulbs is an action residents can take as well. Using LEDs in the home takes 75% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer, according to the US Department of Energy (DoE). DoE also predicts that if LEDs become widespread by 2027, the United States will save energy equal to 44 large electric power plants at 1,000 megawatts each and over $30 billion in electric costs.

(Matthew Hornung & Olivia Gieger)

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