Are energy efficient bulbs worth the cost?

Image via The Simple Dollar

Image via The Simple Dollar

Energy efficient light bulbs are often a bit pricier than their incandescent counterparts. In some cases, the bulbs are worth the extra cost but not always.

Resource savvy light bulbs are worth the extra costs when you’re:

  • installing them in a space that will be used often
  • installing them in a home you will live in for a year or more
  • using the bulbs in a space that require multiple light sources, hence more bulbs are needed

In those three cases, you’ll benefit the most from the longevity of use and money saving properties of energy star rated light bulbs.

Of course, not all eco-friendly bulbs are created equally. Even within the group, different types of light bulbs are good for different purposes. Bulbs are identified based on efficiency, illumens, and light appearance. An article I read recently explains more.

When aiming for optimal efficiency, target CFL and LED bulbs. You may notice that there is a serious price difference on these bulbs but there is a reason for that. They’re made to last upwards of 15 years whereas a standard incandescent bulb will only last a year or less. If you plan to be in your [home] for more than a year, it’s more cost effective to invest in CFL or LED bulbs.

Illumens are a measurement for brightness. The higher the number in this category, the brighter the light. 450-1600 is the most common range that you’ll see for residential lighting. Though it was once rare, it’s increasingly common to find LED bulbs in higher illumens.

When it comes to illumens, brightest isn’t always the best. Consider the quantity of bulbs you will be working with. For example, my kitchen has recessed lighting as well as pendant lighting. Getting 17 bulbs at 1600 illumens each is a bit overkill—think ER surgery roominstead of the bright but gentle lighting that I prefer. If you have little access to light, aim for brighter bulbs. Greater access to light requires less brightness per bulb.

Yeah, it seems like a lot of thinking and analyzing for something as simple as picking out a light bulb. The good news is that you only have to do it once and then you’ll know exactly what you need for your home in the future.

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