FAQ: Picking the Right Bright Light
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Are you still using traditional incandescent bulbs in your home? If you haven’t made the switch to energy-saving light bulbs yet, don’t worry. Like you, I knew that switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) could result in significant energy savings, but I wasn’t sure where to get started. Between wattage ratings, lumen ratings and coloration, I felt overwhelmed just looking at the light bulb aisle! Good news: even if you’re like me, picking the brightest, most efficient bulb is actually pretty easy. Follow these tips to get started.
Does switching to energy efficient bulbs really make a difference?
Absolutely! Just swapping out a few bulbs in your home could save you up to $500 a year. Now, imagine the impact on energy use if EVERY home in the United States did this. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if every home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an energy efficient bulb, the energy savings would be enough to power 3 million homes for one year! That’s the equivalent of $650 million in annual energy cost savings. Swapping out bulbs is also good for the environment – replacing one bulb in each American home would result in 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emission savings. That’s the equivalent to taking 800,000 cars off the road!
How do I select the right energy-saving light bulbs for the light fixtures in my home?
To get started, you will need to determine the wattage of your existing incandescent light bulbs. A watt is a measurement of energy consumption. Your bulb also produces a minimum light output, known as a lumen. When switching from traditional, incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs, you will need to look at both the wattage and lumen measurements for your light bulbs. For example, your bedside lamp at home may currently use 60-watt incandescent bulbs.
This means that the lamp provides a light output of 800 lumens. You can enjoy this same light output (800 lumens) with only a 13-watt energy efficient CFL. That’s a pretty big energy savings! When selecting a CFL replacement, look for the wattage and lumen ratings. Many bulbs include both a “soft white wattage” number (that’s the equivalent of your 60-watt traditional bulb) as well as a CFL wattage (13-watt). The lumen value will be the same, 800 lumens.
Do CFLs emit a harsh, bright light?
This is one of the most common myths about CFLs, and a big reason why homeowners (myself included) are reluctant to switch out bulbs in light fixtures for the home. Sure, harsh lighting has its place in office buildings and classrooms, but when it comes to my bedside table, I want a nice, soft reading light. In reality, CFLs emit a wide range of light. Some bulbs do provide a bright white light, while others offer a softer light similar to traditional incandescent bulbs. What gives? CFLs are rated on the Kelvin scale. Bulbs closer to 2700K emit softer lights, while those at the higher end (6500K) emit a brighter, harsher light. When selecting your light, look for the Kelvin rating.
My old incandescent light bulbs have not yet burned out. Should I wait until they do or replace them immediately?
There’s no need to wait! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing your old incandescent bulbs is an energy-smart choice. For each bulb you replace, you will save up to $65 per year. Swap out a few bulbs in your living room and bedroom, and you could be looking at over $500 a year in savings! Save your old incandescent bulbs for use in a closet, where they would only be used for a few minutes at a time.
I am having difficulty finding CFLs that work with my dimmer switches and recessed lighting. Where should I look?
A limited number of CFLs currently work with dimmer switches and recessed lighting fixtures (called ‘recessed cans’). These are available at major home improvement stores and can easily be ordered online, as well.
If you’re looking for ways to protect your home, contact an Allstate agent today to discuss your options.