Confused about energy-efficient lighting options? Don’t be—our quickie primer will keep you out of the dark.
Incandescent - Most of these traditional, energy-hogging bulbs are being phased out due to new federal efficiency standards. Halogens, a type of incandescent, are still sold and use 25% less energy. These bulbs are best suited for rooms with dimmers as many CFLs and some LEDs don’t work with these devices. Cost is approximately $2.00 per bulb with an annual operating cost per bulb of $8.21 with an 11 month life span.
CFL - Compact fluorescents use 75% less energy than incandescents and last 10 times as long. They can be recycled but have small amounts of mercury so if broken be careful with your clean up. These bulbs are best suited for areas that stay lit as turning on/off limits their life. Cost is approximately $4.00 per bulb with an annual operating cost per bulb of $2.05 with a 9 year life span.
LED - Light-emitting diodes use 80% less energy and last 25 times as long as incandescents. They are typically cool to the touch and are recyclable with other glass. These bulbs are best suited for hard to reach areas (such as high ceilings). Their longer life span means less frequent changing plus have no mercury risk. Cost is approximately $10.00 per bulb with an annual operating cost per bulb of $1.64 with a 23 year life span.
How bright is that bulb?
Wattage won’t tell you how well CFLs and LEDs will shine. Instead, focus on lumens (found on the packaging), a better measure of brightness in the bulbs. Here’s a quick guide to compare lumens to old-school incandescent wattages: 40 watts = 450 lumens; 60 watts = 800 lumens; and 100 watts = 1,600 lumens.
Bright Idea...CFLs and LEDs come in a range of soft hues, including red and blue, not just blinding white and sallow yellow so experiment with the colors that work for your decor.
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*Price comparisons for one bulb used 3 hours per day at 12.5¢/kWh
Source: Good Housekeeping Institute