Buying a light bulb used to be something that you did several times a year, basically choosing between one to two 60 watt and 40 watt ones, or getting a pack of 60s and a pack of 40s (once in a while, you’d get a 75 watt; at least that’s how it was in our household).
But with the rapid (it seems that way) innovations and recent government regulations, it’s not your grandma’s light bulbs anymore (or my mother’s or even mine).
Due to a 2007 federal law, the traditional incandescent bulb (Thomas Edison’s classic fixture) will no longer be produced nor imported in the U.S. by the end of 2014-next year! (but stores will be allowed to keep the surviving remainders on the shelves until they’re sold out).
According to Jaclyn Pardini, spokesperson for Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, “A lot of people are starting to look at light bulbs as an investment.”
That’s because there’s now a wide range of energy-efficient, long-lasting replacements that come in an equally wide range of colors and shapes.
Which is best for your needs? Here’s a few options to consider:
Price: $2-$3 range
Should last from 1,000-3,000 hours
They’re the closest thing to soft, glowing incandescent light bulb, but there’s not much gain in life span or efficiency (25 to 30% less energy) over the incandescent.
Table and floor lamps, bathroom vanity fixtures and outdoor floodlights look best with this light.
Halogens are good with dimmers.
CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)
Price: From $1-$2.50 range
Should last for 10,000 hours
CFLs use two-thirds less energy than incandescent bulbs.
Their life span can be reduced a bit if you turn the light on and off a lot. And using CFLs in an enclosed fixture can also reduce the life span. Special Note: Some of the newer models don’t have this problem.
Disposing a CFL can be troublesome; each one contains a small amount of mercury. These bulbs need to be recycled. Fortunately, not only do several retailers offer this service, but many municipalities allow drop-off at their household hazardous waste places. For more info, check out www.search.earth911.com for listings.
CFLs come in a variety of color temperatures that will affect the look of the room (in a good way).
A soft white/warm white hue (the most common color temperature and the closest in color to the classic incandescent) can be used in living areas, bedrooms and dining spaces. It works well with earth tones like tan and brown.
A cool white/neutral/bright white is a very good choice for office and work areas. It’s also fine for general lighting and works well with neutral tones such as gray and beige.
Natural/Daylight is excellent for reading areas or display lighting. This shade also complements bold, vivid colors like green, purple and blue and will show color at its most accurate.
LED (Light-Emitting Diode)
Price: $10-$30 range
Should last from 20,000-50,000 hours
LEDs have an extremely long life; “From the time a child enters kindergarten to the time that they graduate from college, that bulb will still work,” said Jaclyn Pardini. These bulbs have a much higher cost than the others, but they’re worth it. The potential return in energy savings ( 80% over incandescents!)and your time in changing out light bulbs is far greater over time. So it’s more of a longer-term investment.”
LEDs are brighter than halogens or CFLs.
Special Note: These lights do not dim well unless they’re connected to a wall dimming switch especially designed for them. LED-compatible dimmers are available at big-name stores; starting price is around $30 (same goes for CFLs).
Recessed ceiling areas in the kitchen or family room, stairwells, any tough-to-reach fixture (such as ledges, cabinets and track lighting suspended from a cathedral ceiling) are good choices for a LED.
Did You Know That…..
Instead of “watts”, the new word to know is lumens, which is a unit of measure for the brightness of light that a bulb produces.
Here’s three examples:
40 watts=450 lumens
60 watts=800 lumens
75 watts=1, 100 lumens
By replacing your home’s five most frequently-used bulbs, you can save $70 each year.
The average American home has about 30 light fixtures.
If every American household replaced its five most frequently-used light fixtures or the bulbs in them, the national savings would be $8 billion each year in energy costs, and that action would prevent greenhouses gases equal to the emissions from 10 million cars.
Sources: “Energy Hog”-McClatchy Newspapers-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Feb. 24, 2013 and “Do you know which light bulb to buy?” by Karin Beuerlein-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Aug. 18, 2013