Choosing light bulbs harder than it used to be: The Weekly Fix
Not so many years ago, purchasing light bulbs was simple. Now, incandescent bulbs have been joined by an array of compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs. How should you decide which to buy?
First, consider "brightness" – it's measured differently in the new bulbs. The light output of CFLs and LEDs is described in "lumens." An 800-lumen LED (which uses only 6 – 6 watts of electricity) or an 800-lumen CFL (which uses 13 – 15 watts of electricity) will give the same brightness as a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb. You can also choose the "temperature" of light desired. For a "warm" temperature (resembling the yellowish light of an incandescent bulb); select a "soft white" or "warm white" bulb; for a "cool" bluish-white temperature, select a "daylight" bulb.
Next, think about performance. For energy use and longevity, LEDs are far superior to CFL and incandescent bulbs. So, if an LED bulb matches your fixture, it's your best choice — especially as prices have dropped considerably for the most commonly used bulbs. Although they have a higher initial cost, they will last a lot longer, produce less toxic waste, work with dimmers, are at full strength immediately, and produce less heat.
However, don't throw out a working bulb just to replace it with an LED. You'll waste the energy it took to manufacture that bulb and transport it to your house. Wait for it to burn out, and then properly dispose of it.
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