Seeing the Light: Your Guide to Which Lightbulbs Work Where
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Seeing the Light: Your Guide to Which Lightbulbs Work Where

Interior & Furnishings | HGDI ADMIN

You asked, we answered. This guide to lightbulbs will let you know which home lighting options work best in different situations, so you can take advantage of energy efficient lightbulbs, while saving on both cost and stress.  

There are three main types of lightbulbs for household use: Incandescent (traditional), CFL and LED. The measure of brightness for incandescent lightbulbs is wattage, but homeowners should look to the lumens for a more accurate indication of brightness for CFL and LED lightbulbs. 

Incandescent Lightbulbs

It may be getting harder and harder to find new incandescent lightbulbs to purchase. That is because a number of traditional lightbulbs are being phased out. These bulbs require the most energy usage, and many do not meet the new federal efficiency standards. The exception are halogen bulbs, which use about 25 percent less energy, and are still widely available.

Incandescent bulbs are best for light fixtures attached to dimmers. Many CLFs and LEDs do not work with dimmers, although the technology is still evolving.

CFL Lightbulbs

With an energy usage of 75 percent less than incandescents and a ten-times longer lifespan, CFLs can be a good choice for cost savings. Because these lightbulbs contain small amounts of mercury, broken bulbs can be a hazard that require specific clean up precautions. Burnt out bulbs must be recycled carefully. 

CFL lightbulbs work best in areas that stay lit, since turning the lights on and off frequently will negatively affect the lifespan. They also require a warm up time before reaching full brightness. 

LED Lightbulbs

Using just a fraction of the energy required of traditional bulbs but without the negatives of CFL bulbs, LEDs are the go to choice for most household uses. Expect these lights to last tens of thousands of hours of use. They don’t “burn out” the way incandescent lightbulbs do. Instead, they slowly lose some of their brightness. Once a bulb fades to 70 percent of its original brightness, it is considered to have reached the end of its life. 

LED lightbulbs work well in hard to reach spots, such as ceiling fixtures. They typically offer light in one direction, although new designs and technology may offer additional options. 

Did you Know?

Both LEDs and CFLs are now available in a range of colors? Householders can choose among many soft hues and some bold ones, too. So, if a bright white doesn’t suit you, go for something different. 


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