Shedding light on buying energy-saving light bulbs


If saving money is one of your new year’s resolutions, one way might be as simple as flicking a switch. Converting to energy saver bulbs can reap real savings but many people are confused and frustrated by the array of choices and the unfamiliar terminology when shopping. What used to be a simple purchase is definitely a more complex task, but help is at hand with NPR’s simple Guide to Changing Light Bulbs, a handy tool designed to demystify the many options we now have as we transition to energy efficient lighting. It compares standard incandescent bulbs that we are all familiar with to halogen incandescent, CFL and LED options. It includes pictorial aids, terminology definitions and handy comparison charts. Two things we found most useful are the comparison of costs over 10 years (ranging from a low of $16.37 to a high of $76.70) and the equivalency guide of watts to lumens.

For those who’d like a little more detail, CNet offers a guide for techno-geeks, the Light bulb buying guide. It offers more detail on the various choices, along with a discussion about light color. Hint: you don’t have to forgo that soft, romantic glow if you know what to shop for. It also discusses options like shape, directionality of light and dimmability.

In addition to bulbs, you may want to consider replacing some of your fixtures. Energy Star estimates that replacing your five most used fixtures with energy saver models could save up to $75 a year.

Here are a few other guides to help you out.