The old incandescent light bulbs that we have been using for over 100 years are starting to get phased out. The standard incandescent bulb is actually a heater with light being a byproduct. In fact 80% of the electricity used goes to heat. This is where compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED) come in. Since they produce light by means other than resistance they produce the same amount of light but with less energy consumption. In fact some LED lights put 80% of the electricity used in to light. Since LED lights last so long they can save money in maintenance cost since they don't need to be changed out so often. This also makes them a good choice for those high up can lights.
Buying efficient bulbs for your can lights may just be the beginning of the energy savings. There is a hidden money waster built in to almost all can lights. These cans are installed by poking holes in the ceiling which now produces an air leakage point around the can. The cans also take up space that could be covered with insulation. In fact many can lights need to have at least a 3 inch space around them in the attic. Lastly the cans, even if IC rated, can leak air themselves. These cans basically are a path for air to be transfered between the attic and home.
I recently performed an Energy Audit on a house built in 1996 in Reno. While using a blower door and thermalImaging andd I was able to capture an image of this air leakage. In the picture you can see the cool air coming out of the light.
Not all is lost, with the new LED bulbs that are available these large leakers of air can be retrofitted. Since the LED produces less heat a good weatherization contractor can seal these cans or even install retrofit kits to reduce your energy bills. Using a more efficient light, air sealing the leaky cans, and possibly adding insulation around the lights that was missing all add up in savings.
If your looking to do some energy upgrades to your home in the Reno area contact me. If your in need of someone in other areas look for people certified by BPI or Resnet.