Most of us are familiar with incandescent lightbulbs.  The bulbs are purchased based on watts – 100W, 60W etc. The incandescent lightbulb was invented over a 100 years ago and the basic gist has remained the same all these years; filaments inside a glass bulb heat up giving off light.  But if watts, not lumens are used to describe the bulb, what does that mean?  Watts is a measure of energy used.  Electric heaters work much in the same way and they produce heat.  So does the incandescent lightbulb – over 90% of the energy produced by incandescent bulbs are heat, not light.  The incandescent bulb is an inefficient producer of light and potentially costs consumers more in the long run elevating electrical costs in air conditioned spaces due to the heat they emit.

Lumens are used to define the brightness of the light.  One lumen is equal to the light of a single candle.  The distinction is important as for example, a new compact fluorescent lightbulb will produce as much light – as many lumens – as a traditional 60 watt incandescent bulb using less than one quarter of the electrical energy, a mere 13 watts.

LED lights are the game changers on energy savings.  Light-emitting diode (LED) uses a semiconductor to produce light.  LEDs are the most energy efficient bulb to date.  They are more expensive, however, they last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.  The US Department of Energy is estimating the United States could save $265 billion in energy costs over the next 20 years with the popularity of the LED bulb.

Halogen incandescent and compact fluorescents are two other types of bulbs on the market. Halogen bulbs produce a lot of light, for a longer period but use the same energy as a regular incandescent. Halogen also produces a great deal of heat and are believed to be unsafe in interior lamps and fixtures due to the heat.  A better energy choice is the compact fluorescent.  Compact fluorescents are providing more lumens at a lower watt.  But they too have a drawback…because the light is created by an electric current being forced through a mercury/argon vapor in a glass tube, it takes a bit for the light to reach its full capability once switched on.  Additionally, if broken, the mercury/argon vapor can be unsafe.

Whatever method you choose,  remember to look for the lumen (brightness of light) with the least watt used (energy used to create light) for greatest energy savings.  For more information on energy saving products, visit www.energystar.gov  Image result for energy star logo