Earth Week Daily Action: Change 5 Light Bulbs to LEDs
One of the simplest steps you can take during Earth Week is to change out some lightbulbs. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends you switch out bulbs in the 5 lights you use the most. Usually, that means the lights in the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and on your porch.
Until recently, EPA mostly recommended that you shift from incandescents to compact fluorescents, or CFLS. CFLS are much more efficient than old-fashioned incandescents, but the downside is that they contain a minuscule amount of mercury. The only way this would be a problem would be if you broke one of the bulbs, and even then, vacuuming up the debris minimizes the risk (and you’re exposed to far more mercury inthe pollution that comes from coal-fired power plants).
Still, with LEDs, there’s no mercury involved. Plus LEDs last much longer than CFLs. That’s because LEDs don’t actually burn out or fail. Instead,they experience something called “lumen depreciation,” in which the amount of light produced decreases over time. Fortunately, this time period can be ten years or more. This is particularly advantageous for bulbs in hard-to-reach places like ceiling lights.
Another benefit of LEDs is that they don’t radiate heat the way incandescents or halogen bulbs do. In fact, about 90 percent of the energy an incandescent bulb uses is radiated in heat, which is one of the reasons why it’s so wasteful.
How to Buy the Right LEDs
Most lighting fixtures can easily use an LED in place of an incandescent. However, if you’re planning to use an LED in a fixture that operates on a dimmer switch, make sure to choose an LED designed specifically for dimmers.
Keep in mind you’re purchasing a bulb based on its lumens, not its watts. Most packages will give you the lumen equivalent so you can get the right amount of lighting to meet your needs. For example, if you want to replace a 60-watt incandescent, you’d buy a bulb that generates between 500 and 800 lumens and would only use 8-12 watts. Consumer Reports offers a good guide to choosing the right LED here.
You’ll also want to choose your light depending on whether you want bright light that is more like daylight, or “soft” or warm light, which is yellowish, like an incandescent.
One strong recommendation is to purchase LED bulbs and lights that are ENERGY STAR certified. ENERGY STAR sets standards to ensure that manufacturers produce products of high quality and performance, with long-term testing to evaluate the products over time and in ways that are similar to how you would use them.
Be prepared to pay a little more for LEDs upfront. The package will tell you how much money you will save on your electricity bill over timeusually it’s many times the cost of the bulb.
Some utility companies offer rebates to help their customers pay for the bulbs. Ace Hardware stores often send out coupons that discount LED purchases. If you have a home energy audit done, the auditors may install LEDs as well.
CFL vs. LED: What’s the Best Lightbulb Type?
What to Look for When You Make the Switch to LEDs
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
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