Toss traditional lightbulbs and save with CFLs, LEDs
Old-school lightbulbs are becoming history as tests show energy-saving bulbs are better than ever.
With many homes using about 50 lightbulbs, the cost of traditional incandescent bulbs is a good reason to make the switch.
"Incandescent bulbs are really only cheap if you never turn them on,” said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports. “They cost about $8 a year to power, and that's compared with only $1.70 for an LED or CFL."
Most compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, cost under $3. LEDs are more expensive, at $20 to $30 per bulb.
"But even at that price, they still save you about $125 over their lifetime on electrical costs and on the cost of replacing bulbs,” Lehrman said.
LEDs can last for decades, more than twice as long as CFLs. Also, LEDs light instantly, unlike CFLs that can take 30 seconds or more to reach full brightness.
Many LED bulbs are dimmable. Most CFLs are not.
Consumer Reports tested more than 750 CFLs and LEDs, measuring warm-up time, light distribution and longevity.
The best LEDs outperformed the CFLs on all counts. For 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports named two $20 LED bulbs as “best buys." They are from 3M and Utilitech, which is sold at Lowe's. Both offer a dimmable white.
If $20 is too much for one lightbulb, consider CFLs instead.
Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports says Walmart's Great Value Soft White CFL is top-rated. The cost: $1.25 a bulb.
Durham-based Cree makes an LED bulb that comes with a 10-year warranty. The $13, 60-watt bulb has been through Consumer Reports initial tests only. Testers say it instantly provided a bright, warm, yellow light.
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