If you’ve been shopping for light bulbs recently, you’ve probably noticed a shift in store displays and retailers’ selections. Traditional incandescent light bulbs used to line the shelves, but now there’s a wide range of energy efficient LED and CFL light bulbs for sale.
Learn More: What’s the Difference Between LED and CFL?
Learning a whole new way to shop for lights can be confusing and frustrating, so how do you know what kind of energy efficient light bulbs to buy when it’s time to replace your traditional incandescent ones? And how can you be sure you’re getting a good value? Keep reading to find out.
Replacing Your Incandescent Light Bulbs
Let’s take one your home’s overhead light fixtures for example: if you’ve been using a 60 Watt bulb, then you might not be sure what you’re shopping for now that bulbs are sold by Lumens, not Watts.
The short answer is that you should replace your 60 Watt incandescent bulb with at an energy efficient bulb that puts out at least 800 Lumens of light. Similarly, a 40 Watt bulb should be replaced by 450 Lumens, a 75 Watt bulb by 1,100 Lumens, and a 100 Watt bulb by 1,600 Lumens.
Image Credit: Take Control & Save
Lumens and Watts
It’s important to realize that Watts and Lumens aren’t just two different ways to measure the same thing. In fact, Watts measure how much energy it takes to power a light bulb, and Lumens measure how much light the bulb emits.
“In the past we bought light bulbs based on how much energy, or watts, they use,” says Energy.gov. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy lights based on how much light they provide?”
In other words, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy a racehorse based on how he races, instead of paying for the how much hay he eats?
Do Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Pay Off?
Now that you know that there’s a fundamental difference between Watts and Lumens, and now that you know that you should replace your 60 Watt bulb with an 800 Lumen one, you’re almost ready to go shopping. Almost.
Before you head to the store, though, we should warn you that energy efficient CFLs and LEDs are more expensive than your old bulbs were: incandescent bulbs only cost about $1 each while energy efficient ones can cost 5-10 times that much. LEDs and CFLs last longer and burn cleaner than traditional bulbs do, though, which saves your family a lot of money in the long run.
CFLs and LEDs Last Longer and Burn Cleaner
CFLs last about ten times as long as incandescent bulbs did, and LEDs last about twenty-five times as long. That means that you’ll buy and change less light bulbs than you used to.
CFLs and LEDs are also more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs were, so your electricity bill will be lower once you’ve switched to energy efficient bulbs. Some estimates say that you could save as much as $50 annually by upgrading just 15 of your home or business’s light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs (source).
Take Control & Save says that an “an ENERGY STAR® qualified LED light bulb can last 25,000 hours. That means based on normal use, a bulb installed in a newborn’s nursery won’t have to be changed until he or she graduates from college (source)!”
How Much Can You Save: Use the Take Control & Save Lighting Calculator to Find Out!
Replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs — like that 60 Watt bulb in your overhead light — with newer, energy efficient ones, doesn’t have to be confusing or frustrating. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives are here to help.
Come back to the blog often or contact your local Cooperative to learn more about making the switch to energy efficient bulbs, and to learn more about how energy efficiency can save money on your family or business’s utility bill.