What Light Bulbs Should I Buy?

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HHW Lightbulb An average home uses about 15 percent of its electricity for lighting, but there are easy ways to reduce this energy consumption and save money.

Review the Lighting Facts label on light bulbs before purchasing them. These labels are required by law to help consumers choose the most efficient bulb for their needs. The labels provide helpful information about the bulb, including information on brightness, color, energy usage, estimated operating cost, life expectancy, and mercury content.

You can also look for the ENERGY STAR label when choosing your bulbs. Light bulbs with this label have been proven to meet energy-efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use 70-90 percent  less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and over their lifetime can save you between $30 and $80 in electricity cost for each bulb.

Different light bulb technologies exist with varying levels of efficiency:

  • Incandescent bulbs, which are based on older technology, convert most of their energy to heat and not light.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are more energy efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. They are now available in a wider range of colors and not just the blue tones of early models. However, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, so they should be carefully disposed of or recycled whenever possible.
  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are an emerging light bulb technology. LEDs are long-lasting, efficient, and do not contain mercury, and unlike CFLs or incandescents, they are cool to the touch.

Since light bulbs can contain mercury and heavy metals, they should be disposed of carefully.  Click here for information on disposal at a Household Hazardous Waste event.

Another way to save money and electricity is to use natural sunlight as much as possible. You can do this using mirrors and light colors to reflect light within your home. Also, removing obstacles blocking light from your home, such as windowsill clutter, can bring in more sunlight. Other options include adding skylights and window shades that can easily be adjusted to let a maximum amount of light in.