The lights are about to go out on the last of the incandescent bulbs. Popular 60 and 40 watts will no longer be manufactured come January. But resist the urge to run out and hoard!
Consumer Reports' latest tests show energy-saving bulbs are better than ever.
Most people rely on about 50 light bulbs to brighten their living space. And you may be asking, "Why buy energy-efficient bulbs if my old incandescents are going strong?"
Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports says, "Incandescent bulbs are really only cheap if you never turn them on. They cost about eight dollars a year to power. And that's compared with only a dollar seventy for and LED or CFL."
Most CFL's cost under three dollars. LEDs are more expensive, 20 to 30 dollars each.
Lehrman says, "But even at that price, they still save you about 125 dollars over their lifetime on electrical costs and on the cost of replacing bulbs."
And LEDs have advantages. They can last for decades, more than twice as long as CFLs. LEDs light instantly, unlike CFLs that can take 30 seconds or more to reach full brightness.
And many LED bulbs are dimmable. Most CFLs are not.
Mark Thielking with the Energy Improvement Corporation has switched to LED lights throughout his home.
Thielking says, "The light's great. The turn-on time is very quick, and the fact that I don't have to change bulbs very often is better."
Consumer Reports has tested more than 750 bulbs. The lab measures warm-up time, light distribution, and how long the bulbs last.
And testers use this sphere to measure brightness and color temperature.
The best LEDs outperform the CFLs on all counts. For 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports named two 20-dollar LED bulbs "Best Buys." The 3M and one from Utilitech, which is sold at Lowe's. Both produce a white light that's dimmable.
If you can't bear to spend 20 dollars on a light bulb, then consider CFLs instead.
Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated Walmart's Great Value Soft White CFL. It costs $1.25 a bulb.