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Switching to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Have you been using incandescent bulbs in your home? If you haven’t made the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs yet, don’t worry. Most everyone seems overwhelmed just looking at the light bulb aisle these days. Good news: Picking the brightest, most efficient bulb is actually pretty easy. Follow these tips to get started.

Should you switch to energy-efficient light bulbs now, or wait until your old incandescent bulbs burn out?Does Switching to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Make a Difference?

Just swapping out 15 incandescent bulbs in your home could save you up to $50 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s because a standard incandescent is only 10 percent efficient, the agency says; the other 90 percent of the electricity it uses is lost as heat.

CFLs, LEDs and Halogens (also called “energy-efficient incandescents”) are the three major categories of energy-efficient light bulbs, and they are commonly found in home improvement stores.

Compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, are 75 percent more energy efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs and they last 10 times longer. CFLs are just like the fluorescent “shop lights” you may already have in your garage – they’re just a different shape. Not all CFLs are dimmable, so if that’s a feature you’re looking for, be sure to check the package. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, so they need to be recycled properly to prevent the release of mercury into the environment.

LEDs are 75 percent more energy efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs and they last up to 25 times longer. Unlike CFL bulbs, which take time to “warm up” when they switch on, LEDs turn on instantly. But, as with CFLs, you’ll need to check the package if you’re looking for a dimmable option. LEDs are expensive relative to incandescents, but the Department of Energy says “they still save money because they last a long time and have very low energy use.”

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Halogens are 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional incandescents, and can last up to three times longer. These bulbs come in multiple shapes and sizes and many can be used with dimmers. Halogens don’t have a “warm up” time; they’re at full brightness the instant you turn them on.

Comparing Brightness of Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

With incandescents, we are all used to shopping by “watts,” which is a measure of energy consumption. But wattage only tells us how much energy the bulb uses, not how much light it gives off. Now, the Department of Energy says, you’ll have to shift your focus from watts to lumens, which is a measure of light output.

More lumens indicate more light. For example, your bedside lamp at home may currently use 60-watt incandescent bulbs. This means that the fixture provides a light output of about 800 lumens with an incandescent. You can enjoy this same light output (800 lumens) with a CFL that uses less than 15 watts. (Note: Bulb labels will still note the wattage, but you should compare them based on the lumens to get your desired brightness.)

When Should You Replace Old Bulbs With Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs?

No need to wait. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it makes sense to replace your incandescent light bulbs now because you can begin enjoying the energy savings right away. You might save your old incandescent bulbs for use in a closet, the Energy Department says, where they would only be used for minutes at a time.

There are some incandescent bulbs that are exempt from the new restrictions (they include appliance lights, black lights, bug lamps, and 3-way incandescents).

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The Department of Energy has more information on Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs at their website.

If you have any questions about making your home more energy-efficient give Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. a call at 843-497-9867. Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

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