Three Things That Will Help You Buy the Correct Light Bulb

compact fluorescent light

I remember when buying a light bulb was easy. Just getting the correct wattage to obtain the brightness I wanted was the only decision I had to make. But these days, buying a light bulb is sure to deliver a case of tired head as you wade through the many choices of bulbs available and try to understand what the best choice is.

Here are three things you need to know to make the right choice.

The first thing to know is why are light bulbs changing so much? This is the result of the federal government forcing you to use less electricity so we won’t be as dependent on foreign oil, and also to put less strain on our environment. The end result of this processing out old-school light bulbs will result in savings billions of dollars of energy per year.

Educating yourself will take the frustration out of the inevitable change.

The second thing to know is to forget what you know. In the past, we always bought bulbs by their wattage to obtain the desired brightness. Forget you did that, because wattage is a measure of how much electricity is being used. Lumens are what is measured to determine how much light a bulb generates. So from now on, you are concerned about lumens, not wattage. For instance, a 60-watt light bulb produces 800 lumens, while a LED light can produce the same 800 lumens with only 10 watts.

The third thing to know is what the types of bulbs are. The old-school bulbs we are used to are called incandescent, and they were invented in 1879 by Thomas Edison. Time for new technology!

Compact fluorescents, aka CFLs, have been around for about 20 years and continue to improve. They use a quarter of the energy an incandescent does, and the light hues and bulb life are improving. CFLs should not be thrown in the trash. Take them to a place that recycles them, like a hardware store.

Light Emitting Diodes, aka LEDs, only use about 1/3 the electricity incandescents do. The downfall with them is the cost, which is starting to drop pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to the time when LED lighting is more affordable; it provides a lot of flexibility and new ways to use light. One plus is that the LED lights have the potential to last over 20 years.

So next time you go light bulb shopping, take the bulb you are replacing with you and tell the person at the hardware store you want a bulb roughly the same size, but putting out the same amount of lumens with less wattage. They will be sure you get a light bulb that works well, and saves you money.


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