Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Your Guide to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Shopping for light bulbs used to be easy. Conventional incandescents were typically the only type available, and all you had to decide was whether you needed a 40-, 60- or 100-watt bulb. Conventional incandescents are very inefficient, however, wasting most of their energy as heat. These days, there are a variety of energy-efficient lighting products on the market. And while these new products can help to reduce your energy bill, they make shopping for light bulbs a lot more complicated. This guide will help you find the right lighting products for your needs.

Shedding light on lumens

For decades, homeowners have shopped for light bulbs based on wattage. A 100-watt light bulb, for example, would be brighter than a 40-watt bulb. In today's world of energy-efficient lighting, lumens are what matter most. Wattage is the power that goes into a bulb, while lumens measure the light that comes out of it. Energy-efficient light bulbs are more efficient because they provide more lumens per watt than conventional incandescents. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb provides 800 lumens, while a 15-watt compact fluorescent lamp produces about the same amount of light for much less energy. When choosing among lighting products, look for lumens.


Energy efficient lighting
Lighting choices

Three of the most common energy-efficient lighting options available are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Halogen incandescents are about 25 percent more efficient and can last up to three times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs. A capsule inside the bulb holds gas around a filament to increase energy efficiency. They are available in a wide range of shapes and colors, and can be used with dimmers.

CFLs are smaller, curly versions of the tubular fluorescent lamps commonly used in offices. They cost more to purchase than traditional incandescents, but because they use about 75 percent less energy, they typically pay for themselves in less than a year, and last up to 10 times longer. CFL bulbs are available in the familiar warm (yellowish) tone of conventional incandescents, and some are encased in a cover to diffuse the light and give the bulb a traditional look. CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, a hazardous material, and should be disposed of properly.

LEDs are made of a solid semiconductor material that converts electricity into light. LEDs are up to 80 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent lamps and last up to 25 times longer. Because they are made of a solid material, LEDs are hard to break, a distinct advantage over conventional light bulbs made with glass. LED products are currently available as replacements for 40-, 60- and 75-watt conventional incandescents. Although they are more expensive to purchase, LEDs pay for themselves over time through their long life and low energy use.

Get the facts

When comparing lighting products, look for the Lighting Facts label, which is required on most lighting packages by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The label provides accurate information on the brightness (in lumens), energy used, rated life, and estimated annual energy cost of each product.

For more energy-saving tips, visit our website at https://www.appalachianpower.com/save/learn/.





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