Going green, saving the planet, or decreasing your carbon footprint; no matter what you call it, we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect Mother Earth, and it sure doesn’t hurt to save some greenbacks while you are going green – bonus!
1. Don’t Choose Your Bulbs Lightly
When purchasing light bulbs, we generally look at cost and wattage that will produce the light we need for the task at hand – cooking, reading, or working on our computers. Adding LED to your list of caveats will not only make your home more energy efficient, it will also help reduce your energy bill. As a matter of fact, Energy Star labeled LED bulbs use one-fourth of the electricity an incandescent bulb of comparable brightness uses. Incandescent bulbs also give off 90% of their energy as heat, while LEDs remain cool. Cooler bulbs mean cooler rooms and lower air conditioning bills.
LED bulbs also produce directional lighting, which is perfect for most tasks. Incandescent bulbs are omni-directional, meaning they give off light in all directions including places you don’t necessarily need to light, such as the back wall and ceiling.
True, LED bulbs are currently more expensive. However, they do come with a multi-year warranty, will lower your energy bill, and last longer than incandescent bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of these bulbs is also declining rapidly.
2. Watts Up?
When shopping for LED light bulbs, there are two factors to keep in mind. First, be sure the bulb you purchase includes the Energy Star logo on the package. Energy Star-certified LEDs are tested to guarantee longevity, non-flickering dimming, a complete power down when turned off (another cost saving bonus), to light up instantly when turned on, and are as bright as incandescent bulbs. The Energy Star certification will ensure you are choosing the best bulb for your buck.
Secondly, while we are accustomed to choosing light bulbs by number of watts (a measure of electricity used), LED bulbs are measured in lumens, a measure of brightness.
As you can see on this comparison chart created by Professor Michael Siminovitch from the California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis, a typical 60 watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with an 800 lumen LED bulb to achieve the same amount of light while utilizing less energy, thus lowering your energy bill.
3. Style or Savings?
Switching to energy efficient lighting doesn’t mean you have to give up style or decrease your options for lighting brightness and hues. High efficiency light bulbs range in color from a bright white hue, or a blueish tint, to a yellow shade. In the lighting industry, color is described by temperature as Kelvin degrees (K). The warmth to coolness of the light source will affect how warm or cool your space will appear.
Lower Kelvin numbers (2,700K to 3,000K) will emit a yellow tinted light mimicking a soft white incandescent light bulb, whereas Kelvin numbers (3,500K to 4,100K) will radiate a cool white light, perfect for work spaces and kitchens. Higher Kelvin numbers (5,500K to 6,500K) produce a bluish hue, similar to daylight, which is suitable for reading.
The Color Rendering Index measures how colors will appear in the light source as opposed to an incandescent light bulb. Light bulb packaging is required to include lighting color facts utilizing the Kelvin scale and the CRI. Color accuracy of 85 or higher is usually best for home interiors. This information will help you have the perfect lighting in every room and save money at the same time.
4. Set the Mood and Save
Dimming lights to set the mood of a room will also save energy. Dimming your LED bulb by fifty percent will save you 25% – 40% in energy usage, increase the life of the bulb, and will not change the color accuracy. Be sure the packaging is labeled “Dimmable.”
Another thing to keep in mind; if you are going to replace older, less efficient track lights, down lights or accent lights; older transformers are not compatible thus will cause a newer dimmable LED bulb to flicker. The fix is to simply replace your transformer with an LED driver. You can also look for products labeled “flicker free” or “plug and play.”
5. Light-time Expectancy
LEDs last much longer than standard incandescent bulbs which results in savings through fewer purchases. A high quality LED bulb is expected to glow from 35,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to an incandescent bulb lasting only 750 to 2,000 hours.
The two things you want to look for when purchasing LED lighting is the inclusion of a 5-year warranty, and at least a 20,000+ hour lifetime. Bulbs carrying these benefits may cost more initially, but you will be purchasing a higher quality bulb, which will save you more in the long run. Be sure to check with your utility company for incentives and rebates for utilizing energy efficient lighting.
California Lighting Technology Center/UC Davis
Photo Credit By Karl Baron (originally posted to Flickr as LED light bulb) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Published May 2013
Client: Simple Home Energy