Compared to traditional fluorescent or incandescent lighting, LED home lighting is incredibly energy-efficient. In most cases, choosing residential LED light bulbs throughout your house is a better choice than others available to you. Before we learn about the benefits of LED lighting, we must first understand what they are.
You may be wondering, “What is LED lighting?” Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of solid-state lighting; semiconductors that convert electricity into light. If you haven’t been down the lighting aisle of your favorite home improvement store lately, you may be surprised at how many residential LED lighting products have arrived. Although once used primarily for indicator and traffic lights, LEDs in homes and businesses are one of today’s best, most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing technologies.
The most significant difference between LED lighting and regular incandescent or fluorescent lighting is energy-efficiency. LED light bulbs are six to seven times more energy-efficient than conventional incandescent lights, cut energy use by more than 80 percent and can last more than 25 times longer. An average LED light bulb would use 8.5 watts, while a comparable Incandescent light would use 60 watts.
Residential LED bulbs are currently available as replacements for 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt incandescents, reflector bulbs (used in recessed fixtures), small track lights, three-way bulbs and even holiday light strings.
In most cases, LED lighting is the best option when looking to save money on lighting costs. While the price tag of a LED light bulb is more than an incandescent bulb, they still save money because they last a long time and have very low energy use. The Department of Energy estimates using a traditional incandescent bulb adds about $4.80 per year to the average home electric bill. A compact fluorescent light (CFL) adds just $1.20 per year and an LED about $1 per year. That means a typical household could potentially save about $50 per year by replacing 15 incandescent bulbs.
Try our lighting calculator to find out just how much you can save!
When buying LED light bulbs for your household, it’s important to consider what type of LED you need. Different types of LEDs can be used in different situations. Here are some of the main types and how they can be best used.
Standard LED light bulbs are one of the most common types of LEDs. Standard LEDs are often used in lamps and other common household lighting fixtures.
Can or recessed LED light bulbs are mounted directly on the ceiling. Recessed lighting usually features a decorative trim that you can purchase in various styles.
Flood LED lighting typically emits a brighter light than some of the other types. As a result, flood lighting is typically used in areas like your backyard, patio, and deck area.
Globe LED light bulbs are large, round light bulbs that are often used for bathroom vanities because they emit light in every direction.
Candelabra light bulbs mimic the shape of a candle flame. They aren’t as bright as other types of LED lighting and are often used in decorative light fixtures.
Track lighting is most often mounted on a kind of “track” alongside other light fixtures. Each light in the “track” is operated independently and can be adjusted to illuminate a specific object in a room.
Edison light bulbs are used to bring a vintage feel to whatever room they’re in. They’re designed to look like the original light bulb, introduced by Thomas Edison, and are most often used in decorative light fixtures.
Tube lights are long, tubular lights that are mounted in the ceiling. LED tube lights are frequently used in commercial buildings like schools, office buildings and more.
What is a lumen? Lumens measure the light output of a bulb. More lumens means it’s a brighter light; fewer lumens means it’s a dimmer light. We typically buy items based on how much of it we get, right? When buying milk, we buy it by volume (gallons). So, why should light be any different? For decades, we have been buying light bulbs based on how much energy they consume (watts), no matter how much light they produce (lumens). Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying your new bulbs, think lumens, not watts. Look at the chart on the right for comparisons.
When choosing a new bulb, always check the package. Make sure it has the ENERGY STAR® logo. Lighting Facts labels on boxes will also help you understand what you are purchasing. The label lists the number of lumens, estimated annual operating cost and light color. See an example of a “Lighting Facts” label on the right.
There are two ways to measure the color temperature of LED light bulbs. The correlated color temperature (CCT) measures light color in Kelvin (K), while the color rendering index (CRI) measure’s the color appearance of objects.
“Cool” colors like Cool White have a higher Kelvin (K) rating (3600-5500 K) and are better for visual tasks. Often, cool LED lighting is used in bathrooms and kitchens, where it’s essential to see as much as you can of what you’re doing.
“Warm” colors like Warm White have lower ratings (2700-3000 K) and are better for living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms. They create a warm, comfortable atmosphere that is perfect for various living spaces.
The color rendering index measures the effect of the lamp’s light spectrum on the color appearance of objects. The higher the number, the truer the appearance of the light on objects.
When shopping for new LED light bulbs, there are a few things you need to know to ensure you buy the right ones for your home. The next time you go shopping for new bulbs, consider the following:
Poor quality LED products are flooding the marketplace. Some are manufactured outside of the United States with components that produce low light levels, don’t have a long service life or make exaggerated energy-saving claims.
Don’t be fooled. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo for guaranteed color quality over time, steady light output over the lifetime, high efficiency and a warranty.