Thursday, November 3, 2016

Buying Light Bulbs

Photo: Lowes
Ever since Congress phased out the production of incandescent light bulbs (as energy inefficient), I have struggled over which bulbs to buy for my home. Incandescent light bulbs are still available as long as supplies last, but are no longer being made. At home I have 4 incandescent light bulbs left and I love the brightness and warmth of these bulbs. I will use them, one bulb at a time, in a reading lamp, which stands beside my living room couch.

Even so, I'm trying to adopt. Sooo, recently I went to Home Depot on a light bulb run. The choices are many (between LEDs, CFLs or Halogens) ... and it gets confusing!


After standing in the light bulb aisle for about one-half hour comparing light bulbs (Jeez, we must study now!) and listening to the home depot sales rep talk about the bulbs (frankly, she didn't know what to buy either!), here's how I whittle it down:

 Constellation Residential and Small Business Blog
The majority of homes will need to replace their standard incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient: LED, or CFL (i.e. fluorescent) bulbs. They are more expensive than the old light bulbs, so prepare yourself for sticker shock! Also keep in mind that a soft white emits a warm, yellow glow; while bright white and daylight white emit a cool, blue, brighter glow. "Daylight" is the brightest bulb.

Perhaps you can consider what I selected for my home as a guide for what you might buy for your home:


I. For My Living Room: LED Light Bulbs - 100 watts in soft white


LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. 

The most expensive of the bulbs, I bought one LED bulb - 100 watts (equivalent) for one side of my couch. It produces light most similar to the old incandescent bulbs. The 100 watts LED bulb is bright enough to read a book, yet warm and not harsh on the eyes. Reportedly it will least 22 years, but who will remember? I've kept the receipt to help with remembering, and believe me, I will return that expensive sucker ... um bulb (I'm the sucker for paying so much for a light bulb!) back to Home Depot if it blows out early.


II. For My Kitchen: CFL Bulbs - Three 40 watts in soft white 


CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lighting. 

Know that fluorescent blubs contain mercury and should be recyled. They are about half the price of LED bulbs.


Because the kitchen requires 3 light bulbs, I discovered, a bulb higher than 40 watts is too bright and harsh on the eyes. The 40 watts, yellow tinted "soft white" provides enough brightness when I use 3 light bulbs.


If you have a dimmer switch in your kitchen (or no natural light ever), bumping the light output up to "bright white" and/ or increasing the watts is worth considering. 


III. For My Bathroom: CFL Bulbs - Two 100 watts in daylight white


These are ultra bright and blue tinted (and likely) too harsh on your eyes elsewhere in the house. But for a windowless bathroom, they are the perfect brightness, to see how much makeup you are applying; or to stylishly pluck your eyebrows. They are the right choice for a dark closet also.


Generally, I find {a} LED and CFL bulbs marked "daylight" too bright for rooms where I spend hours of time, such as a living room. On the other hand, the ''soft white" choice for a living, or bedroom has a warm, yellow glow. {b} Anywhere I use a single bulb, I prefer 100 watts and only like less wattage (75 watts, 60 watts, 40 watts) in lamps that require multiple bulbs. That is probably a personal choice. For me ... let there be light so I don't feel like I'm going blind, or inside a vampire's lair!

I only bought one of the more expensive LED bulbs for my living room where I spend most of my time at home, although if it does last for 22 years, it will end up being the best buy. I'll buy a 2nd LED bulb for the opposite side of the couch after I get over the shock of paying for the first one!


I selected the initially cheaper CFL bulbs for the rest of the apartment because life is uncertain. They last 9 years, according to the box. This seems like a good compromise. Honestly, who knows if I will last for 22 years to get the value of the higher priced LED bulbs! Considering how costly light bulbs are now, should we worry about thieves breaking into our homes to steal them? Surely, the new ones fall under the category of "valuables," no?


Future news story - Homeowner: "And I returned home, flicked on the lights, but an intruder had removed all of my light bulbs!"

While at Home Depot, I spent so much time trying to figure out which bulbs to bring home, I attracted a following of three equally perplexed, light bulb shoppers. They accompanied me up the aisles as I grabbed options, and so I began reading the light bulb facts out loud. I believe I did a good deed by getting a man to switch from 100 watts "daylight" to 100 watts "soft white" for his living room. The camaraderie was nice. My next Home Depot trip will feel lonely in comparison!

Dear readers, light bulb shopping will make your head spin. Hope you find this blog illuminating!
  Another helpful page: Energystar.gov.

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