Energy efficient light bulbs, whether CFLs or LEDs, are a good idea any time of year. But with long winter nights looming, and electricity rates on the rise, it’s time to stop procrastinating.
Before you go to the hardware store, though, take a few minutes to survey the incandescent light bulbs you want to replace. How many bulbs of each wattage will you need? How many on 3-way switches? How many flame-shaped candelabra bulbs? How many decorative globes? How many track lights, spot lights, flood lights? And what kind of base for each (standard size, candelabra, bi-pin)?
Any light fixtures on a dimmer switch? Make sure you buy bulbs clearly labeled “dimmable.” Yes, they are out there, but they cost more than other energy efficient light bulbs, and you might not be satisfied with the results. So buy one and test it out before investing in more.
Any lamps on electronic timers or photosensors? Be sure to read the package carefully. CFLs and LEDs are different animals than incandescent bulbs and most don’t always work well with these kinds of controls.
Also remember that energy efficient light bulbs don’t come in the same wattages as the incandescent bulbs you’re replacing. So, if you want to put an energy saving bulb into a fixture that uses a 60-watt incandescent, you’ll need about a 13-watt to 19-watt CFL or LED. The bulb package will give you an “equivalent” incandescent wattage. Or you can compare the lumens–the light output–to make sure they are about the same.
Yes, you’ll save money on your electric bill by switching to energy efficient light bulbs. But take the time to do it right.