effort to save money on electrical bills, we set our sights on one of the easier money-saving decisions you can make concerning your home. Making the switch to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to start lowering your electric bills, and it’s also one of the smartest. In 2012, new lighting standards took effect, which completely changed the landscape of traditional lighting. Previously, the most widely-used bulb design was the incandescent, which wasted 90% of its energy in heat. The newest bulbs on the market, especially the models that are Energy Star- qualified, use far less energy and have a much longer life. They are also much better for the environment.

There are several new light bulb designs on the market, most reflecting the new standards of efficiency. The most popular deigns available are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Although the retail price on these bulbs is higher than halogen, the initial cost will be made up through energy-savings and extended use. You can find these bulbs in any hardware or home improvement store, so taking an afternoon to replace your current lights should be easy. Halogen Incandescents (which are not very efficient) are still available and remain popular – mainly due to their low price point and ease of use.

Here is a short overview of the most popular types of bulbs available:

CFLs

Compact fluorescent lamps are variations on the long tube fluorescent lights that are routinely found in kitchens and offices. They are now available in a variety of colors and tones as well as traditional bulb encasements that provide a similar shape to typical lamp lights. If you are looking for a bulb that will work with a dimmer switch, note that not all designs are compatible. (Make sure you check the label out for usage.) CFLs can pay for themselves after less than nine months, after which they will start saving you money in utility bills. All fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and need to be recycled after their use.

More on CFLs

LEDs

Light emitting diodes are one of the most energy-efficient bulbs available today. They are considered a type of solid-state lighting; semiconductors that transform energy into light. Solid-state includes LEDs, OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) and PLEDs (polymer light-emitting diodes) as opposed to electrical filaments, plasma or gas. LED bulbs will eventually replace incandescent bulbs altogether (as well as CFLs, which are considered a temporary solution for energy-saving lighting). Their lifespan is far greater than either a CFL or Halogen Incandescent. The typical lifespan for an LED is 50,000 hours compared to 10,000 hours for a CFL and 1,200 hours for an Incandescent.

More on LEDs

Halogen Incandescents

These bulbs, which have been slightly updated since the lighting standards went into effect, contain a capsule within the bulb that keeps gas around a filament to increase efficiency. The new designs meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard, but are easily the least efficient of the light bulbs on the market. Compared to earlier versions, modern Halogen Incandescents use 25% – 30% less energy and last up to three times longer. But for every 450 lumens (light output) an incandescent puts out, it uses 40 watts of energy – compared to 4-5 watts on LEDs and 8-12 watts on CFLs.

The light bulb market continues to change and grow, far faster than in any other period of time. Manufacturers, who in the past may have been reticent to change, have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. They have embraced the new technologies and continue to introduce new designs with better value and a longer life. While some of the newer bulbs may not work as flawlessly as previous designs, it won’t be long before they are just as user-friendly and embraced by the average consumer.

Click HERE for more Interstate energy-saving tips – and remember that regular HVAC maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your monthly utility bills low.

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