Cost: (one bulb) $1-$2.50; (one year): $1.57
Life: 10,000 hours
Pros: Here’s where energy efficiency really steps up. CFLs use two-thirds less energy than incandescents.
Cons: Early CFLs got a bad rap for being slow to warm up and casting harsh light. But they’ve improved a great deal. Still, you reduce the life span a bit if you turn the light on and off a lot (less than 15 minutes of on time). Using CFLs in an enclosed fixture can also reduce their life span, but some newer models have overcome this.
Check the packaging for the bulb you’re considering.
Disposal can be a hassle. Each CFL contains a small amount of mercury, so you need to recycle old bulbs. Several retailers offer this service, and many municipalities allow dropoff at their household hazardous waste facilities. (Check search.earth911.com for listings.)
LED (light-emitting diode)
Cost: (one bulb) $10-$30; (one year): $1.50 (see note)
Life: 20,000-50,000 hours
Pros: Extremely long life. Cutting-edge technology.
Cons: Much higher upfront cost than other bulb types. But, Pardini says, “the potential return in energy savings and your time in changing out light bulbs is far greater over time. So it’s more of a longer-term investment.” Like CFLs, some LED bulbs can deteriorate in the heat of an enclosed fixture, so consult the packaging.
(Note: Cost figures are averages and based on 60-watt-equivalent single bulbs. Annual cost and life span based on three hours of use daily.)
Sources: Lowe’s Home Improvement, Home Depot, energystar.gov, eartheasy.com, Consumer Reports
CHOOSING THE RIGHT HUE
CFL and LED bulbs come in a variety of colors (“color temperature” is the correct term) that will really affect the look of the room you’re illuminating. Here are your options, with tips on what will put each room of your home in the very best light.