Choosing the Best Energy-efficient Light Bulbs for Your Home
Energy-efficient light bulbs help you lower your overall electricity consumption and replace your light bulbs less often. There are many factors to consider when deciding which lighting is right for your home, starting with the different types of light bulb and their efficiencies. Read on to learn more about the differences between CFL, halogen, and LED light bulbs and how they can help you lower your energy consumption and shrink your carbon footprint.
Halogen Incandescent Light Bulbs
Benefits of Incandescent Lighting
These are the most common type of light bulbs found in stores and most homes. Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest lighting option if you only consider upfront costs. Halogen incandescent light bulbs are widely available and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and warmths making them convenient to replace.
Drawbacks of Incandescent Lighting
Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Halogens are less expensive at first, but are the least energy efficient light bulbs, costing you more money in the long term. They also have the shortest lifespan, so you’ll also have to factor in the cost of frequent replacements.
CFL Light Bulbs
Benefits of CFL Bulbs
CFL light bulbs, or compact fluorescent lamps, have a distinct curly shape. These bulbs will use less energy than standard incandescents and typically pay for themselves within nine months. An Energy Star-qualified CFL bulb produces the same amount of light as its incandescent counterpart but will last 10 times longer and only use approximately one quarter of the energy.
Drawbacks of CFL Bulbs
CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury and must be disposed of properly when they burn out. This means that despite the energy savings, CFLs are not be the best eco-friendly option. You must follow specific rules when recycling these bulbs, and not all recycling facilities will accept CFLs as they can be hazardous if not disposed of correctly.
LED Light Bulbs
Benefits of LED Bulbs
LED light bulbs (light emitting diodes) are long-lasting and durable, withstanding circumstances that would otherwise damage a standard incandescent bulb. These bulbs are also an excellent eco-friendly option. They’re mercury-free and give off very little heat. Since you want a light bulb for its light, not it’s heat, any heat generated by a bulbs is key indicator that it’s wasting energy. Hot bulbs can also raise the temperature of your home if you have enough of them on, forcing you to spend more on air conditioning.
Because of their efficiency, LED bulbs are the most cost effective long-term lighting option. Although they still might cost a little more than the standard bulb, the price of LED bulbs has been steadily dropping over the past few years as technologies improve and more people invest energy-conserving products. Since these bulbs last much longer, you can save more on replacement costs, too. LEDs can last up to 8-25 times longer than incandescents, while only using 25%-30% of energy. 
Drawbacks of LED Bulbs
LED lights have the highest upfront cost of the three options. LED light bulbs are a bit of an investment, but they’re much more affordable today than they were 10 years ago. Replacing all your lighting with comparatively expensive LED bulbs now can save you lots of energy in the future. However, this might be more planning than you anticipated when you simply need to replace a single burned-out bulb. If you’re not looking to immediately switch all of your lighting to LEDs, your best bet is to steadily switch over to LEDs as your old lights burn out.
What Are Lumens?
Lumens are how we measure the brightness of a light bulb, not to be confused with wattage. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. Not every room needs the brightest possible light, so choose the lumens according to your lighting needs in each area of your home.
What Are Watts?
Watts measure how much electricity a bulb uses. The higher the watts, the higher your electric bill will be. If you’re looking for an energy-saving light bulb, you’ll want to go with something that has a low wattage, especially if this light will see heavy use. .
Energy and Cost Comparison
One of the most painless ways to save money on energy costs in your home or business is to switch to energy-efficient lighting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one Energy Star-certified LED light bulb uses up to 90% less energy than old incandescent bulbs and can save you more than $80 in electricity costs over its lifetime. See the chart below to compare the different types of bulbs to each other.
|Light Bulb Comparison|
|Expected Life Span||1,000 Hours||10,000 Hours||25,000 Hours|
|Watts per bulb (based off 60 watt bulb)||60 watts||14 watts||8.5 watts|
|Cost per bulb||$1||$2||$5|
|KWh of electricity used over 25,000 hours||1500||350||212.5|
|Cost of Electricity (based off of 0.12 per KWh||$180||$42||$25.5|
|Bulbs needed for 25,000 hours lifespan||21||2.5||1|
|Total cost of bulbs over lifespan||$21||$5||$5|
|Total cost of 25,000 hours usage||$201||$47||$30.5|
Choosing Lights for Your Home
For long-term savings of both money and energy, it’s clear that LED lighting can’t be beat. They contain no mercury, which makes them environmentally safer than CFLs and more convenient for you dispose of once they burn out. LEDs produce very little energy waste (heat), substantially reducing energy costs when compared to halogens.
Your lighting needs tend to be different in each room of your home. The bright, white lights of your kitchen would be inappropriate in your bedroom or lounge where warmer lighting will better set the mood.
When you’re looking for the right bulbs to use for your home, choose LED bulbs based on color, warmth, and lumens. Here are a few suggestions to creating the perfect lighting for each room in your house.
- Entryway — This is the first space that everyone sees when entering your home. A medium light that creates a natural-light look will keep it fresh and welcoming while providing a nice balance when you step inside from the bright sun.
- Office — No one likes a bright office light when staring into a bright computer. Warm lighting won’t give you a headache while working on your laptop or reading a book.
- Bedrooms (and bedroom lamps) — Nightstand lamps should have a dimmable option for reading, or a relaxing warm lighting that won’t wake you up. Regular ceiling lighting in the bedroom should be bright to help you adequately move about the room and get dressed.
- Bathrooms — A cool light is often recommended for the bathroom for a clean appearance, but could distort colors when applying makeup. The brightness in this room really depends on preference.
- Dining Room — The dining room is often a lively space used for entertaining. Something well-lit but not too bright will create a welcoming atmosphere. You may want adjustable lighting that you can dim for different types of dinners or meals.
- Kitchen — The kitchen should always be bright to keep up with the hustle and bustle of daily use and make food prep and cooking easier.
- Living Room — The living room is another entertainment space, but it’s something that’s used on a daily basis to unwind with family after a long day working or studying. Dimmable options offer variety and would do well in this space. If you don’t have dimmable switches, you can also ad some well-placed floor or table lamps for warm, relaxed lighting.
- Nursery — Similar to the warm lighting used in the bedroom, a nursery needs to remain a calm and relaxing space.
- Garage — A dimly-lit garage can cast strange shadows! Bright lighting is the best option here, especially when handling power tools/equipment or working on projects.
- Outdoor Lighting — Safety is key for outdoor lighting, so abundant lights are a must. Warmer lights go well with brick exteriors while cooler lighting accents crisp whites and greys.
Looking for other ways to reduce your energy consumption? Learn more about smart thermostats and how they can help you reduce your electricity usage.
- Energy.gov (n.d.) Lighting Choices to Save You Money – Retrieved from:
- Energy.gov (n.d.) Lighting Choices to Save You Money – Retrieved from:
- U.S. Department of Energy (n.d.) Energy Saver Guide 2017 Retrieved from: