We know not to leave the lights on when we leave a room, but here’s another brilliant lightbulb idea: make the switch to eco-friendly lightbulbs! To help illuminate the difference between fluorescent, incandescent, wattage and more, this article will dive into everything you need to know about how to light up a room, sustainably.
Why Our Planet Needs a Lightbulb Moment
One of the easiest ways to support our planet is likely shining down on you right now. Especially if you have older bulbs in your bedside lamp or overhead lights, they could be a significant (and inefficient) energy suck.
In fact, lighting typically ends up accounting for roughly 15% of a household’s energy use.
Let’s take a look at how lightbulbs have evolved over the years, and how and why you should make a switch to the newest, most efficient lightbulbs out there.
Lightbulbs: a Brief History
Thomas Edison gave us incandescent lightbulbs towards the end of the 19th century, but he also gave us a lightbulb that wasted roughly 90% of its energy as heat.
Roughly a century later, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) were introduced as a more efficient alternative. Unfortunately, they were slow, bulky, and expensive. Over the years, CFLs continued to improve, until 2007, when an arguably better version came out.
Halogen lightbulbs are a moderately efficient source of light, and an advanced version of an incandescent lightbulb. They work similarly, but last significantly longer. For example, an incandescent lightbulb generally uses around 25-30% less energy and lasts around 1,000 hours—whereas a halogen lightbulb lasts around 2,500 hours.
Today’s lightbulb landscape looks a little different, as CFLs are being completely phased out after GE stopped selling them entirely in 2016. This is because an even better version of lightbulb has emerged: light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Benefits of LEDs
LED lightbulbs are the top choice from an efficiency standpoint, especially as they typically use about 25%-80% less energy than incandescent lightbulbs. Then there’s the fact that they last longer—much longer. A LED lightbulb can have a lifetime of up to 25,000 hours—or more than 22 years if the light is on for three hours per day!
While you may expect to pay a little more up front, the energy savings also come with financial savings that add up (up to roughly $225 a year according to Energy.gov).
There are several other benefits of LEDs, too:
- LEDs turn on instantly (no warm up time like with CFLs)
- LEDs do not contain mercury
- Not only do they use less energy, but because they last longer, LEDs have a lower carbon footprint (less manufacturing, transportation, packaging, and maintenance)
- LEDs aren’t hot to the touch and won’t deteriorate light fittings
- LEDs attract less insects
- LEDs are becoming cheaper (and more fun) all the time thanks to new products like color-changing strips
How to Buy and Use Eco-Friendly Lightbulbs
Opt for energy-efficient lighting
While LED lights are considered to be the superior lighting choice for the planet, halogen incandescent lights are another good option
Check for ENERGY STAR
The U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR certification indicates that strict energy efficiency guidelines are met. Certified lightbulbs use up to 90% less energy, last at least 15 times longer, and produce about 70-90% less heat.
They’re also verified by a third-party to meet several other requirements, meaning that they don’t flicker, give off a good color of light, and dim well.
You might even be eligible for a rebate! A full list of products and rebates can be found here.
Use a dimmer or timer
It’s important to make every effort to turn off a light whenever it’s not in use, but even when the lights are on, you can make them more sustainable. A timer can help you save electricity (especially if you have a forgetful mind!) because it will turn the light off and on for you.
When they’re used to lower light levels, dimmers also save electricity. Just be sure to find one that’s compatible with your energy-efficient bulbs.
Maintain the bulbs
Don’t let those lightbulbs get dirty or dusty! For adequate illumination, it’s recommended that you regularly dust and clean the bulbs.
According to Consumer Reports, dirty lightbulbs will decrease light levels over time—by as much as 50%!
Use selective lighting
While sometimes a brightly-lit house looks great, it’s important to consider if it’s all really necessary. Over-lighting a room is unnecessary, and will end up costing you.
As a general rule of thumb, most rooms will require about 20 lumens of light per square foot. Other suggestions include to use roughly 1,000 lumens for large, dark spaces and just 500 lumens for most rooms in the home.
However, if you’re just reading in your bed and have a bedside lamp, there’s really no need for the overhead light, or the light in the closet or adjoining bathroom.
By using more efficient lightbulbs and smart lighting practices, you can help to flip the switch on climate change.
Eco-Friendly Lightbulbs: 5 Durable & Efficient Options
1. Cree 60W Equivalent Daylight (5000K) LED A19 Dimmable Lightbulb
These lightbulbs are designed to last 22 years. They provide the equivalent of 60 watts, and exceptional color quality—all while using 83% less energy than standard bulbs!
They’re also suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and feature a dimmable design. They can last up to 25,000 hours, or roughly 22.8 years based on three hours of use a day.
They also meet efficiency standards for ENERGY STAR certification.
2. Philips Hue LED Smart Bulb
While these are a bit more pricey, these high quality and energy-efficient LED bulbs are bringing a new generation of lighting. Choose between three color ranges—white, white ambiance, and white and color ambiance. Instantly change the look and feel of any room by selecting from more than 16 million different colors!
The lights can also be controlled via Bluetooth. Several different size options are available.
3. EcoSmart 40W Equivalent A19 Dimmable ENERGY STAR LED Lightbulb Bright White
These lightbulbs provide crisp, bright, white light—but do so sustainably. They’re designed to use 84% less energy than a standard bulb, while still providing 460 lumens of brightness.
They’re also shatter-resistant, designed for both indoor and outdoor use, and are compatible with most dimmer switches.
4. Sylvania 60W Equivalent A19 Soft White Dimmable LED
Considered to be seven times more energy efficient than incandescent lights, these soft white bulbs are a great sustainable lightbulb swap. The bulbs are shatter, shock, and vibration resistant, too!
Not only do these lightbulbs save energy and money, but they have a lifespan of roughly 11,000 hours. The soft white color is perfect for bedroom or living room lights, however, they are not dimmable.
5. Philips 60W Equivalent A19 Light Bulb
If you’re not in need of a smart, color-changing lightbulb, Philips also has a very cost-effective eco-friendly option with these soft white lights.
Users can expect an 86% reduction in annual energy costs, and a bulb that lasts 10,000 hours (or 10 years with three hours of use per day).
Before We Turn The Light Off on Eco-Friendly Lightbulbs
How many people does it take to change the eco-friendly lightbulb? The answer should be all of us! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by environmental doom and gloom, it’s great to remember that just a small, simple change like lighting can still make a big difference.
What are your favorite eco-friendly lightbulbs or energy-saving tips? Let us know in the comments!