If like many people you are looking to save money and energy, the light fixtures in your home are a good place to start. Lighting your home can make up as much as 25% of your electric bill. For maximum savings, you can buy both Energy Star certified fixtures as well as energy saving CFLs or LED bulbs.
Moving Toward Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 pushed manufacturers to begin phasing out high energy bulbs in favor of more energy efficient alternatives. Newer light bulbs must use 25% less energy and the packages must clearly indicate important information such as brightness, operation costs and expected life of the product. Some people have chose energy efficient incandescent bulbs, however, many people are considering higher efficiency light sources such as CFLs and LED bulbs.
What are CFLs?
Everyone has seen the long tubular fluorescent lights installed in schools, hospitals, commercial locations and many garages. Compact fluorescent(CFL) bulbs are a smaller, spiral version made to fit in common light fixtures around the home. CFLs can be as much as 25% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times as long. CFLs provide the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, but use less electricity to do it. CFLs are not much more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, so they are an affordable alternative.
CFLs are not perfect of course. CFLs are sensitive to extreme temperatures and are not recommended for enclosed fixtures. If you want to use a CFL in an enclosed fixture, be sure it is rated for that purpose. CFLs also are not suitable for areas where they will be turned on and off frequently. On/off cycling can shorten the life of CFL bulbs, reducing your savings. As everyone has heard, CFLs also contain mercury and so must be handled with extreme care should they break.
What are LEDs?
Light emitting diodes(LEDs) have been around for quite some time. Anytime you see an indicator light on your DVD or other electronic devices, that is an LED. LED bulbs are common in electronic devices because they do not produce a large amount of heat and they use very little energy, even less than CFLs. In fact, LEDs use 20%+ less electricity than CFLs and last up to 10 times longer. LEDs usually do not contain any toxic chemicals and are suitable for locations that may have the light turned on and off frequently.
LEDs tend to be very small, so when you buy a LED bulb it will actually contain a large number of individual LEDs. The only downside to LEDs are the price. Prices can range from $15 to over $50 per bulb.
Should you buy CFL or LED bulbs?
Trying to decide between CFLs and LED bulbs can be a challenging decision. There is no simple answer, it really depends on the intended use. If you want a bulb you can dim, you will most likely want to go with a LED instead of a CFL. There are CFLs that can work with dimmers, though. Read your packaging on both LEDs and CFLs to make sure it is dimmable.
If you have children or pets, the harmful chemicals in CFLs could be dangerous should the light be broken. Light fixtures that may get knocked over or bumped should certainly have LEDs rather than CFLs.
CFLs are much cheaper than LED bulbs, so if you are looking for an affordable, quick fix, CFLs are a good choice. CFLs generally pay for themselves in less than one year. If you are wanting a bulb to last for many years, and you are okay with a longer payback period, LED bulbs are a great investment. If you have any questions about which bulbs is best for your situation or if you want to find Energy Star certified light fixtures, give us a call.