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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
bulb label

Shopping for Lumens (aka Light Bulbs)

Stroll down a light bulb aisle at your local hardware store and you may be amazed at the choices. And, you may be confused! I know that I have been. Well, after reading several articles and spending time wandering around the light bulb aisles, I have some suggestions that may help you choose light bulbs.

First, shop for lumens rather than watts. Watts are a measure of how much energy a light bulb requires to work. Lumens are a measure of how much light a bulb produces – the brightness of the bulb. Most of us typically shop for light bulbs by wattage, but lumen is the more useful measure when looking at different kinds of bulbs. For example, if you are accustomed to a table lamp light that used a 100-watt incandescent bulb, you will want to shop for a light bulb that produces about 1600 lumens. Other equivalents for traditional incandescent bulbs to keep in mind are:75 watts, 1100 lumens; 60 watts, 800 lumens; 40 watts, 450 lumens.

Carefully read the label of the light bulb when shopping. Look at the Kelvin (K) on the label that describes the color of the light. Some bulbs produce a blue-white, cool color while others look more yellowish and produce a warm color. Depending on where you plan to use the bulb, you may prefer one color tone over another.

Next, consider the cost of using the different bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs are expensive to use because they waste energy; compared to other bulbs, they produce heat instead of light. To produce about 800 lumens of light, a traditional incandescent 60-watt light bulb will cost about $4.80 per year, based on two hours per day of usage. A halogen incandescent light is a little better; it costs about $3.50 per year. In contrast, a ENERGY STAR CFL costs $1.20 and a ENERGY STAR LED only costs $1.00. How many light bulbs do you have in your house? Multiply this cost savings by the number of bulbs and you likely have a lot of money saved!

Finally, remember the convenience of using long-lasting light bulbs. CFLs last about ten times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs, and LEDS last 25 times longer. Think about how nice it will be to have lights that need replacing much less frequently.

Want to know even MORE about energy-efficient light bulbs. A good source is the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers: Lighting and Daylighting website. Let me know your thoughts about all of our new light bulb choices!  What's working for you?

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