One fairly simple way to save money (and energy) in your home is to switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs. In the last few years, LED bulbs have been introduced, which are even more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs, which had replaced incandescent bulbs). Both CFLs and LEDs have a higher cost in the beginning, but you recoup that money in energy savings and longer-lasting bulbs. LED light bulbs have additional advantages over CFLs in that they:
- contain no mercury
- use much less electricity than other bulbs
- produce very little heat
- do not emit UV or infrared
You don’t have to go out and buy enough for your whole home at once, but here are some tips on getting started.
1. Learn about your choices.
- Key Differences and Eartheasy both have great articles explaining the differences between CFLs and LEDs. GreenLivingIdeas offers some in-depth cost comparison information.
- Bulbs.com also has an article to help you decide if switching to LEDs is right for you. They also have a guide to LED lighting.
2. Determine your needs.
Walk around your home and write down what fixtures you have in each room, how many bulbs you need, and what kind they are. Include the wattage, shape of the bulb, and shape of the base. Bases can be miniature, candelabra, or standard (also called medium).
Once you have determined what you currently have, you can figure out the equivalent fluorescent you need. Naturallighting.com and Eartheasy have two great conversion charts. Scroll down on the Eartheasy article to see a chart comparing incandescents, CFLs and LEDs.
3. Pick wattages.
We personally go on the lower spectrum of the compacts and use 11W (for CFLs) in most rooms of our home. We prefer the 13W in our kitchen and 15W outside the front door. We use 2W in our dining room chandelier which has 6 bulbs. We also like the 2W for the lamps in our boys’ bedrooms. We prefer the 2700K color temperature of bulbs because they give off a warmer light. We use the 5000K (which is a brighter white) for outside the front door. I will be doing research when those burn out to decide what LEDs we will replace them with.
Some fixtures are harder to find compact fluorescent bulbs for, like bathrooms. We were able to find globe compact fluorescents for one bathroom, but not the smaller globes for our other bathroom.
4. Buy your new bulbs.
My two favorite places to get light bulbs are Bulbs.com and Natural Lighting. Bulbs.com generally has the cheapest prices, but Natural Lighting sometimes has products they do not carry. I prefer these two websites versus buying at a discount store, because some of the regular brands we have bought at a brick and mortar stores did not last as long. The selection is also much bigger on these two websites.
5. Keep good records.
Once you find what you like for each room, make sure you add your new compact or LED needs to your chart of bulbs in each room. This will help you the next time you need to order more.
Once you convert your bulbs, you will notice that you will have to change them much less frequently and your electric bills should go down, too!