Erin Doman on January 27, 2016 0 Comments We live in a world where the price of everything is on the rise, and saving money is now more important than ever. One way to cut costs is to switch to energy-efficient lighting, which is quite easy to do once you understand the cost savings and benefits of each type of lightbulb. Different Types of Bulbs The most common bulb is the incandescent, which is usually the least expensive when it comes to the initial purchase price. However, incandescent bulbs have the lowest efficiency rating. They use more energy, and since they only last between 700 and 2,000 hours, they need replaced often, which boosts overall costs considerably. A variant of incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs are the closest you can find to the feeling of natural daylight, but they are only slightly more efficient, which usually isn’t worth it when you factor in the higher cost and hotter burning temperatures. Halogen bulbs aren’t very safe, either. Because they burn so hot, even the smallest oil from your hand can cause the bulb to warm quickly and explode. Of course, you can remedy this by avoiding bare skin contact when changing the bulb, but that isn’t always convenient. CFL bulbs are increasingly popular for home use, and they consume only 25 percent of the energy that incandescent bulbs do. They also last 10 times longer, which adds to their efficiency. Like incandescent bulbs, CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, so they should be handled with care and recycled when they wear out. The most energy-efficient light source available is the LED. LED bulbs last for up to 20 years. Current models do not diffuse light and are most useful as under-cabinet lighting in kitchens and bathrooms, but new models cluster LEDs together in an attempt to make them more convenient to use in various fixtures. Initially, an LED bulb is about five times more expensive than a CFL, but the very low amount of energy they use and the length of time between burnouts more than make up for it. Benefits of Efficient Lighting CFLs are about four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, lasting for around 10,000 hours, or a little more than two years if you use the bulb for 50 percent of the day. LED bulbs are even more efficient, and depending on the brand and your usage patterns, can reduce your energy bill by up to 90 percent. Using energy-efficient bulbs also lowers greenhouse emissions. Every time you replace an incandescent bulb with something more efficient, you remove half a ton of CO2 emissions, which are a top contributor to global warming. Efficient bulbs are even more durable than traditional lights. CFL and LED bulbs can withstand more movement. The filament in an incandescent bulb is very fragile. Even the slightest movement could jar it loose, rendering the bulb unusable. How to Decide Which Type of Bulb to Use When deciding which type of energy-saving lightbulb is right for your needs, consider the color, the lumens and the shape of the bulb. If you want a light that is similar to that of an incandescent bulb, choose a warm white CFL. LED is common in white, blue and amber. White light is soft and has no glare, but blue is better for reading because it doesn’t cause as much eyestrain. Amber lighting doesn’t attract insects, so it is best for use outdoors. Once you’ve decided on a color, it’s time to look at the lumens. In the past, people purchased lightbulbs based on their wattage, but watts just determine how much energy a bulb uses, not how much light it produces. CFL and LED bulbs use lumens, so you’ll be able to tell exactly how much light you’re getting. Watts Lumens 100 watts 1600 lumens 75 watts 1100 lumens 60 watts 800 lumens 40 watts 450 lumens Finally, you’ll want to look at the shape of the bulb. Spiral CFL bulbs are closest to the shape of traditional light-bulbs, but Triple Tube CFLs output more light into a small space, making them better for use in reading lamps. If you have track lighting in your home, consider flood CFLs. As mentioned before, LED lights are currently best used in under-counter or under-cabinet lighting, such as for reading recipes in the kitchen, but newer models are expected to be more suited for other uses. The Lighting Facts Label In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) implemented the Lighting Facts Label. You can think of this label sort of like the nutrition facts for lightbulbs. The label even looks similar to the ones you’d find on your food in the grocery store. The first bit of information is the brightness of the bulb, which is measured in lumens. Use the chart in the previous section to determine how many lumens your new bulb will need. The next part of the label consists of the estimated cost it will take to use the bulb for a year. The label bases its calculation on using a bulb for three hours per day for a charge of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but the exact amount you’ll spend in a year will depend on your electric company’s kWh price and how long you use the bulb each day. After the estimated yearly cost, you’ll find the lifespan of your new bulb. Again, this information is based on using it three hours per day. A CFL or LED bulb will last a number of years, depending on how often you run the bulb. Toward the bottom of the label, you’ll find a small line graph. This light appearance graph shows you how warm or cool the light will be. For example, a bulb of 800 lumens will cast a warm light. Once you understand what the abbreviations on these labels mean, it will be fairly easy to choose energy-efficient bulbs that closely match the current lights in your home, and to be sure you’re getting the most savings possible. Switching out a few light-bulbs takes no time at all, and doing so could save you 50 percent or even more on your energy bill. If you want to save money and save the planet, the smartest thing to do is to add energy-efficient bulbs to all of the light fixtures in your home.