Choosing Light Bulbs for Your Home

Get help from the U.S. Dept. of Energy deciding the type of light bulbs to use in your home that will lower your utility bills.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

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Take a look at the expansive display of light bulbs sold at a home center and you’ll find it’s not as easy as it was to choose them. By changing to more energy-efficient bulbs you probably won’t see a dramatic change in your utility bill immediately, but over time as you replace the old incandescent bulbs with new ones you’ll notice the saving. Since the typical homeowner spends about 10% of its energy budget on lighting you’ll be happy you made the switch.

Here’s what the U.S. Dept. of Energy suggests about selecting the right bulbs to light your home with energy-saving bulbs. The most popular light bulbs available are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Halogen incandescent bulbs are about 25% more efficient than traditional incandescents and can last up to three times longer and you’ll find them sold in a wide range of shapes and colors. They’re a good choice especially if you use them with dimmers.

Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs will last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescents but use only one fourth of the energy so these bulbs will pay for themselves within a year of replacing them and continue to save energy. They come in the same brightness and colors as traditional incandescent bulbs. Some CFLs are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to traditional incandescent bulbs.

NOTE: CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury and require special handling if they are broken. CFLs should be recycled at the end of their lifespan.

Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use only 20% of the energy. They come in a variety of colors and some are dimmable and can be used in motion sensors. LEDs are the highest quality and energy saving bulbs.

Here are 5 tips from the U.S. Dept. of Energy

  1. Replace 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs and you could save about $50 per year. For the greatest savings, replace your old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified bulbs.
  2. Use timers and dimmers that save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.
  3. If you’re remodeling, choose recessed light fixtures or "cans" which are rated for contact with insulation and are air tight (ICAT rated).
  4. Keep your curtains or shades open during daylight hours to use daylighting instead of turning on lights.
  5. Outside look for LED and solar powered products such as pathway lights, step lights, and porch lights. For flood lights use CFL and LED bulbs.

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