Angie's List: Changes to Light Bulbs in 2014

By Lauren Maloney

Published 01/24 2014 08:27PM

Updated 01/24 2014 08:35PM

Say goodbye to your old light bulbs.

For about two years, manufacturers have started phasing out incandescent bulbs.

This year, 40 and 60 watt bulbs will fade out.

"There are changes on the way for light bulbs. For example, incandescent bulbs are being phased out. If you are not sure what this is going to mean for you, check with your electrician because you might find you have lighting fixtures that will need to be changed," Angie Hicks said.

The most common alternatives to incandescent light bulbs are CFL's and LED's.

CFL's only need one-fifth to one-third the electricity of incandescent to produce the same amount of light and last about ten times as long.

"They start up initially, but takes them awhile to warm up. So, to reach those optimum light output it's going to take a couple of minutes," Lighting Designer Don Dragoo said.

LED's are up to 85 percent more efficient than incandescent and 10 percent more efficient than CFL's.

"A lot of the LED's require a special type of dimmer. People who are replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs have to be cognizant of the requirements of replacing that dimmer with a specialty dimmer that works in conjunction with the LED's," Dragoo said.

While energy-efficient light bulbs last longer, they do cost more than incandescent.

"When you look at total life of that bulb versus what you paid for that bulb versus what the amount of energy that bulb is using, these are much cheaper. So the tradeoff there is if you want to keep your old incandescent light bulbs you're going to pay more and change them out more. They are going to create more heat in your home as well," GoodCents Managing Director Bob Nuss said.

Lighting is one of the top energy users in the home so when shopping for light bulbs check how much energy the bulb uses because that will have an impact on your electric bill.

"Look at the mission of the light bulb. What are you using it for? If you're just trying to get general light out of it, then I go with the bulb that uses the least amount of energy," Nuss said.

If you're looking to switch over your light bulbs, but can't make them work in your lamp or fixture, you may want to talk to a licensed electrician.

When you choose lighting for your home, you have several factors to consider:

·         Lighting mission? What are you using the bulb for? What kind of light are you trying to create? Do you want it to dim? Do you want a 3-way bulb? Not every bulb will work in all lamps/fixtures.

·         Cost: You’ll pay more than incandescent bulbs, but they will last longer and not produce as much heat.

·         Amount of energy: Check how much energy the bulb uses because that will have an impact on your electric bill.

·         Durability: How long will the lights you choose last? A year? Two? Five?

·         Appearance: Different types of bulbs produce different colors and temperatures of light, which can significantly alter the tone of a living room or kitchen.

Waste not, watt not

With incandescent bulbs, a watt was a reasonable unit of measure to compare the intensity of light. So you knew that 100-watt bulbs were brightest, followed by 75-watt, then 60-watt bulbs, and so on. But a watt is a unit of power, not brightness. Those incandescent bulbs convert only about 5% of the energy they use into light.

Lumens are a better measure of brightness. A lumen is unit of measure for light perceived by your eye. So while an LED bulb may only emit 10 watts of energy, it can glow up to 44 percent brighter than a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

If you're looking to switch over to LEDs but can't make them work in existing sockets, it may be worth hiring an electrician to update your wiring and fixtures.

·         Hire a licensed professional: Aside from the danger that goes along with it, faulty electrical work can lead to fires. Licensed electricians also come in two types: journeymen and masters. Journeymen are often paired with masters, and while they can't design whole-home wiring systems, they can do installations or upgrades.

·         How much? A master electrician working alone should cost between $30 and $45 an hour, while a journeyman and master together can run from $50 to $75 per hour.

·         Ask about education: A licensed electrician will know the code requirements for your area, and whether it requires a permit. A reputable company will require staff to attend monthly training courses and be up-to-date on the National Electrical Code, which is amended every three years.


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