The Next Generation of Efficient Lighting
When you step into a hardware store, you’re faced by a wall of energy efficient light bulb choices. Those include compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), in addition to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Both are great replacements for upgrading those phased-out incandescent bulbs, but which energy-efficient light bulb is better? Keep these five things in mind as you re-light your home with more sustainable sources:
1. Energy & Cost
Though upfront costs for LEDs and CFLs are a bit higher than those old incandescent bulbs, the payback comes through longer life and lower energy costs. Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. With LED light bulb operating costs at about $1.00 per year, it’s possible to save $135 in electricity costs over the entire lifetime of the bulb. Energy Star CFLs use about 75% less energy and last ten times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Annual operating costs run about $1.20.
Tip: CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, so don’t toss them in the trash. Instead, recycle them through a qualified recycler. If you break a CFL, clean it up very carefully.
2. Lighting Style
Both CFLs and LEDs can be used as decorative lights, halogens, recessed fixtures & tube bulbs. Use them anywhere you had incandescents, or try some new installations that are more tech-savvy and integrate smart features. Some LEDs light bulbs allow you to program styles that promote relaxation or focus.
3. Lumens vs. Watts
CFLs and LEDs are measured in lumens—the amount of light a bulb puts out—not in watts. Make sure to choose bulbs with the right lumens for your needs. For example:
• Replace a 40-watt incandescent with a CFL or LED bulb that provides 450 lumens
• Replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb with a CFL or LED bulb that provides 1,100 lumens
4. Light Quality
Check a bulb’s Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) to see whether it emits warm or cool light. Light color is measured on a temperature scale called Kelvin (K). Lower Kelvin numbers provide warmer yellow light, whereas higher K values are associated with cool, blue or white lights. Here’s how to choose:
• 2200K to 3000K for soft or warm light that is similar to incandescent bulbs
• 3500K to 4100K for neutral or cool white, appropriate for kitchens & work spaces
• 5000K to 6500K for the look of daylight that works well for reading
5. Color Rendering
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, indicating how colors will look under the hue of a given bulb. Bulbs with higher CRIs help things look closest to their true colors.