In an average American home, lighting typically accounts for approximately 15% of the total electricity usage. How much you pay in energy costs for lighting obviously depends on how many lights your home has and how many hours a day they are on.

However, the type of light bulbs you use can also make a major difference since some bulbs are far more energy efficient. In this article, we’ll compare LED lights to traditional light bulbs to help you understand why LEDs are almost always the superior choice.

Why Incandescent Light Bulbs Are No Longer Sold

If you’ve shopped for light bulbs in the past few months, you may have been surprised to see that there were no traditional incandescent bulbs on the shelves. The reason is that the US Department of Energy issued new energy-efficiency regulations for all lighting products that went into effect in August 2023. The new regulations require that all light bulbs manufactured or sold in the US must produce at least 45 lumens per watt of electricity they use.

Incandescent light bulbs only produce around 15 lumens of light per watt. As such, these regulations effectively banned the manufacture and sale of almost all incandescent light bulbs in this country. The only exceptions to the new lumen-per-watt regulations are for appliances, flood, black, bug, and marine lights. The regulations also banned the sale of most halogen light bulbs since they only produce around 25 lumens per watt.

The rationale behind the ban on incandescent and halogen light bulbs is that they are extremely inefficient and use much more electricity than any of the other available options. This ban has been in the works for more than 16 years and is just one part of the Department of Energy’s push to make American homes and commercial properties more energy-efficient.

Although the ban is already in effect, it doesn’t mean that incandescent light bulbs are suddenly illegal and must be replaced. You are still allowed to use any incandescent lights you have. If you have extra incandescent bulbs lying around your house, you can still use them to replace any bulbs that burn out. However, you’re really better off just tossing them out and buying different bulbs since they use so much more energy than any other option.

The Department of Energy also proposed another new rule at the end of 2022 that would require most common types of light bulbs to produce a minimum of 120 lumens per watt. Although this new rule hasn’t yet received approval, the DoE hopes that it can be put into effect by the end of 2024. If the rule goes into effect, it would essentially ban most standard fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights.

Comparing the Efficiency of LED and Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

The new ban on incandescent and halogen light bulbs means that the only options for most household light fixtures are either compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs. When comparing the two types, LED is the obvious winner for a few different reasons. The fact that the DoE is proposing to ban the sale of CFLs tells you all you need to know about how energy-efficient they are compared to LEDs.

CFLs produce around 60 lumens per watt, which is why they were exempt from the most recent ban. Exactly how many lumens of light per watt an LED bulb produces can vary slightly depending on the specific type of bulb and the brand. Nonetheless, most LEDs are around 40% to 50% more energy efficient than the same type and size of CFL. LEDs are also at least seven times more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs, which helps to explain why incandescent lights were banned.

Other Benefits of Choosing LED Lights

Another significant advantage of opting for LED lights is that they last an extremely long time. The average lifespan of any light bulb is measured in usage hours. To determine how long a light bulb can be expected to last, manufacturers test a large batch to see how quickly half of the bulbs in the batch fail. This process gives them a measurement known as Average Rated Life (ARL) that tells you approximately how long you can expect the bulbs to last.

Most CFLs have an ARL between 8,000 and 20,000 hours, depending on their base type. This ARL means that if you left a CFL bulb on for 10 hours every day, it would typically last anywhere from just over two to around five and a half years. The majority of LED bulbs have an ARL between 40,000 and 50,000 hours, which means they will usually last for around 11 to 13 years, depending on how often you use them. Some higher-quality LEDs are even rated for up to 100,000 hours and could potentially last for 20-25 years. However, it’s important to understand that these hour ratings are merely averages, and some LEDs will not last as long.

Another issue with CFLs is that around 80% of the energy they use is released as heat. This thermal energy isn’t a problem in winter, but it can make your home quite a bit warmer in the summer and lead to an increase in your cooling costs. This is another area where LEDs have a significant advantage since they produce almost no heat.

How to Choose the Right LED Bulbs

The two main factors to focus on when purchasing LED light bulbs are lumen output and color range. Lumens tell you how much light the bulb produces or how bright it is. The easiest way to know how many lumens you need is a comparison to the wattage ratings used for incandescent bulbs. Since LED bulbs are typically around seven times as efficient, you can compare them to incandescent at a 7-to-1 ratio.

If you have a fixture that typically uses 100-watt incandescent bulbs, you’d want to choose a 14-watt LED. Similarly, a 9-watt LED would produce about the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. The packaging on some LED bulbs lists what size of incandescent bulb it is equivalent to, so you may not even need to perform this calculation.

LED bulbs range in color from primarily yellow to bright blue. Bulbs with a more yellowish hue most closely resemble incandescent light and are most commonly labeled “soft white.” The brightest, most blue-colored LEDs are usually called “daylight,” which is the color used in most LED vehicle headlamps. This color works great for reading lamps or security lights, but most people find it much too harsh for most other uses.

It’s usually best to choose either “warm white” or “bright white” bulbs for places like living rooms, bathrooms, and offices. Warm white is more of a mixture of yellow and white, whereas bright white is more of a mix between white and blue. Many people still aren’t a huge fan of the color of LEDs. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably want to stick with soft or warm white since these will be more similar to the lights you’ve become accustomed to over the years.

With nearly 50 years of experience, Christian Brothers Air Conditioning Plumbing Electrical is who to turn to for all of your electrical needs. If you’re looking to upgrade your home’s lighting or need any other electrical repair or installation services, our team is ready to help. We also offer expert heating, air conditioning, and plumbing services for customers throughout the Glendale area. Contact us today for all your home service needs.

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