Lightbulb Buying Guide

Shopping for light bulbs isn’t what it used to be. Before modern advances in lightbulb technology, all you had to do was grab the nearest incandescent light bulb in the appropriate wattage. Today, light bulbs come in an array of styles, ranging from halogen incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient options, such as compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 phased in new lighting standards to make all bulbs more efficient. While the variety of lightbulbs available today makes it possible to customize lighting to your unique space, budget and style, the sheer number of options can also make shopping for lightbulbs a much more confusing process.

Use this lightbulb buying guide from the experts at ServiceMaster Clean® to choose the best energy-efficient lightbulbs for any room, from your bedroom to your kitchen. First, consider the four factors that impact lighting. Then, use our tips to apply those factors to your specific space and choose the best energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs for your home.

Factors That Impact Lighting

When you’re on the market for new light bulbs, consider these four factors to get the lighting right in any room.

  1. Brightness

The brightness of incandescent bulbs is described in watts, which correspond to the amount of energy used. Since the energy consumption of CFL and LED bulbs is so much lower than traditional incandescent bulbs, their brightness is measured in lumens, which directly relates to the amount of light emitted. The good news is that lumens, like watts, are easy to compare.

Simply put, the more lumens a bulb has, the brighter it will be. Here are some common conversions to help you achieve the same level of brightness in lumens that you used to get in watts:

Watts (W) Lumens (lm)
40 W 600 lm
60 W 900 lm
75 W 1125 lm
100 W 1500 lm
  1. Natural Light

Brighter isn’t always better. While dimly lit rooms will call for brighter bulbs, rooms with lots of natural light won’t require as much brightness. Consider how much natural light each room gets before buying your bulbs. Then, think through how you use the room – and when.

You’ll want lots of light and brightness from the bulbs in rooms where you work, read or play after sunset. Dining rooms and other gathering places will need some light, but it can be less bright. The best light bulbs for bedrooms include 3-way and dimmable bulbs that you can adjust to create the perfect mood during any time of day.

  1. Color Temperature

Different light bulbs offer different color temperatures, another important factor to consider when shopping for bulbs. “Warm white” and “soft white” bulbs will mimic traditional incandescent bulbs by offering a yellow hue, according to Energy Star. “Cool white” and “neutral white” are brighter options for bolder illumination. “Natural” or “daylight” bulbs are even brighter options that are optimal for dimly lit rooms.

TIP: Color temperature is measured in Kelvins. Warmer color temperatures will have lower Kelvin measurements ranging from 2200 K to 3000 K. Brighter color temperatures will clock in between 3500 K and 6500 K.

  1. Energy Efficiency: CFL v. LED Bulbs

The shift away from incandescent bulbs encourages you to choose more energy-efficient options, which can save you money in the long run. CFL bulbs are less expensive than LED bulbs for home owners, use 25 to 35 percent less energy, and can last up to 10 years. LED bulbs that are rated by Energy Star, on the other hand, use 75 percent less energy and can last upwards of 15 to 25 years, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

LED bulbs are more expensive upfront, but you won’t have to replace them as much as CFL bulbs. Due to their design, CFL bulbs take a few minutes to reach full brightness once they’re switched on, and, like incandescent bulbs, they get hot to the touch. LED bulbs don’t get as hot, an added bonus in the summertime or for any home with curious children.

CFL & LED Lightbulb Buying Guide

When comparing lightbulbs, look at the “Lighting Facts” label on the box for insights on all four lighting factors listed above. This label will include the bulb’s brightness in lumens, yearly energy cost, bulb life, color temperature, and energy used.

Once you have the details down, match the features of the bulbs you choose to the requirements of your specific light fixture and room. For living rooms and family rooms that receive natural light, equip your accent lamps with soft white or warm white bulbs with lower lumens. The best light bulbs for kitchens and bathrooms are neutral white or cool white bulbs of at least 900 lumens, which provide more illumination when you’re cooking or getting ready to great the day.

Use our handy tips to find the best LED bulbs for each room in your home. You’ll enjoy the right coloring and intensity of illumination and save money on your energy bill over time. To discover more ways to make your home more efficient, contact the experts at ServiceMaster Clean to ask about our residential air duct cleaning and other services that can help you cut down on waste.