When you step into a hardware store, you’re faced by a wall of energy efficient lighting
choices, including CFLs (compact fluorescents) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
Both are replacements for the phased-out incandescent bulbs. Keep these five things
in mind as you re-light your home with these more efficient bulbs:
1. Energy and cost
Though upfront costs for LEDs and CFLs are higher than the 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 60W incandescent bulb. With LEDs operating costs at about $1.00 a
year, it’s possible to save $135 in electricity costs over the life 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. Don’t toss them in the trash. Instead, recycle them through
a qualified recycler. If you break a CFL, clean it up carefully
CFLs and LEDs can be swapped for decorative lights, halogens, recessed fixtures, and tube bulbs.
Use them for any function you used incandescents, and some new functions that are more tech-savvy.
Some LEDs allow you to program styles that promote relaxation or focus.
3. Lumens in, watts out
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.
•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 get either warm or cool light. Light color is
measured on a temperature scale called Kelvin (K). Lower Kelvin numbers provide warmer yellow light
and higher ones are associated with cool, bluer or whiter lights. 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 and work spaces
•5000K to 6500K for the look of daylight that works well for reading.
5. Color Rendering Index
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a scale that ranges from 0 to 100, indicating how the color of objects and
skin will look with a given bulb. Bulbs with higher CRIs help things look closest to their true colors.