Buying a light bulb used to be relatively straightforward. The transition to energy-efficient lighting, however, has changed that. And, the array of choices on the market today can make selecting the right a bulb an exercise in confusion. Here is a room by room guide to make it easy to pick the right bulb for the right job.
The busiest room in the house demands high quality light. Bulbs labeled “HD” generally offer the most clarity; if you eat in your kitchen, you will want a dimmable bulb.
This hang-out room calls for warm, yellow light to create a cozy atmosphere and flatter skin tones. Choose a bulb that is dimmable so you can raise the light as needed for reading, playing games, etc.
The goal of lighting in this room is to create atmosphere. Dimmable bulbs that give-off a warm yellow glow are best.
Warm lighting is helpful for nighttime when you are getting ready for bed. In the morning, a cooler, brighter light can help you feel alert. Dimmable soft white bulbs offer both.
There are two schools of thought for lighting in the bathroom. Some experts suggest using daylight bulbs or bulbs with cooler lighting as they show colors better; others suggest that a soft white bulb is more flattering. It’s a personal choice.
Major Types of Bulbs
Standard Incandescent: Incandescent bulbs give off the warm, yellowish-white light we’ve grown to love, but they are highly inefficient, losing 90 percent of their energy to heat. You can still find traditional incandescent bulbs on store shelves, but major manufacturers have stopped producing the most common varieties — meaning that 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt bulbs will become scarcer in the coming months. Production of specialty incandescents like three-way bulbs will continue.
Halogen Incandescent: Contrary to some reports, incandescent bulbs have not been banned. In response to a 2007 law setting higher efficiency standards, manufacturers added halogen gas to incandescent bulbs to make them burn more efficiently. Halogen incandescents give off the same light as traditional incandescents, but use 28 percent less energy. Like standard incandescents, they last about one year.
CFL: Compact fluorescents: Have come a long way since becoming widely available in the 1990s. Today, the color of the light is much improved, some bulbs can be dimmed, and the price per bulb has dropped dramatically to a few dollars or less. They use about 75 percent less energy than incandescents and have an estimated life of nine years. CFLs contain very small amounts of mercury and should be disposed of properly.
LED: Currently, LEDs make up less than 1 percent of the domestic market. But with prices dropping rapidly, adoption rates are expected to soar. LEDs use about 80 percent less energy than incandescents and have an estimated life of more than 20 years. Most LEDs can be dimmed. So far, cost has been the biggest obstacle to wider use; while 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs are now selling for less than $10, the price for higher-wattage equivalents is at least twice that.