Q: My husband and I understand the importance of energy conservation and have been making energy improvements to our home. It is much easier understanding the importance of changing HVAC filters on a regular basis, making sure weather-stripping is installed around windows and doors, the importance of installing a programmable thermostat and installing solar/sun shades and window film. My husband is ready to tackle light bulbs and I am not ready to give up on my all-time favorite incandescent bulbs. Is this something we should consider doing? Leon and Susie, Prescott Valley, Ariz.
A: Light bulb shopping used to be so simple. There was one type of bulb with different wattages. Today, one must weigh the concerns of cost, energy efficiency, different light hues and bulb design. So many of us are in the dark on bulbs, I will attempt to shine some light on bulbs. Incandescent bulbs, the long-time stable bulb is no longer the favorite and is being phased out of the market. From incandescent bulbs we migrated to CFL's (compact fluorescent lamps), which were energy reducing, not very pricey, not very pretty, were longer lasting than incandescent bulbs and served a purpose because they were economical and somewhat environmentally friendly and now we are at the LED's (light-emitting diodes) stage and these bulbs are evolving with lightning speed and seem to be taking over the market.
Yes, LED's are pricier, but they last three times longer than CFL's and 10 times longer than incandescent and halogen bulbs. LED's are changing the lighting industry. New designs are hitting the marketplace what seems like daily. LED light fixtures are changing, they are much smaller and they do not take a lot of electricity and are less bulky than other light bulbs and fixtures.
For table and floor lamp use you might want to consider CFL's. Just make sure that you find a color temperature that you like and if you are not a fan of the spiral look you can buy these bulbs with covered globes. With this type of bulb you are saving over the traditional incandescent bulb, using 25-30 percent less energy. I would not use LED's for table and floor lamps because of the extra cost and it is probably not worth it for your bedside or table lamps since these are not big energy hogs.
For recessed ceiling lights in kitchens and family rooms you should consider LED's. Energy efficiency is key in high-use areas and you can save approximately 80 percent over incandescent bulbs. LED's have a bulb life of up to 50,000 hours and they shine light in a single direction rather than glowing, meaning that the light actually escapes the can or fixture. They are much brighter than CFL's. You get a much brighter look with less energy. There are numerous conversion kits that will allow you to install LED's into old can fixtures designed for screw-in bulbs. There are also screw-in LED's on the market.
LED's do not dim well unless they are connected to a wall dimming switch specifically designed for them.
The biggest concern in switching out an incandescent to an LED's is the cost. But keep in mind, they use less energy, brighten instantly and are not affected by turning off and on. It is important to check the lighting facts on the bulb package and look for more lumens. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb. When replacing a 60-watt incandescent look for an energy-saving bulb with at least 800 lumens and 1,100 lumens or more for a 75-watt bulb.
Light color of the bulb is expressed by the "kelvin" temperature. The higher the Kelvin the cooler the light. A bulb with 3,000 kelvin is a very white light. A bulb with 5,000-6,500 kelvin is a bluer type of light.
LED lighting is here so catch the wave, save energy and never have to change a light bulb again for 15 years or more.