Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday: What Better Time to Switch to Energy-Saving Light Bulbs?


Sunday (Nov. 1) marks the end of Daylight Saving Time - that time of year when nature takes back the extra hour of daylight it loaned us last March. It also means that for the next few months, we will be more reliant on interior lighting to keep our spirits up, work flowing, and lives humming along at our regular pace.

But even though the lights will be on longer, our lighting bills don't have to go up. Making the switch now to more efficient, energy-saving bulbs will save you money, and help the environment too. You may think you're as modern as the latest Apple iPhone but if you're still burning incandescent bulbs, you may be as obsolete as your grandfather's Oldsmobile.

Lighting has come a long way in recent years and there is now a super-efficient light bulb for every socket in your house. By switching out your old-fashioned light bulbs to today's LED (light-emitting diode) models, you can cut up to 85 percent off the cost of lighting your home. In fact, since the average household has more than 40 sockets, switching to LEDs could save you around $200 each and every year.

Lower energy use at lower prices

You may have heard that "LEDs are way too expensive," but that's not true anymore.

Like everything else, as demand for these high-efficiency bulbs has grown, technological improvements and production went up, competition increased, and prices came down - by a lot. The LED bulb that might have cost $25 five or six years ago is now around $5 in many instances.

Plus, many utility companies offer rebates. Why? Because LEDs use a small fraction of the energy consumed by today's incandescent bulbs (incandescents were required by law to be more efficient than the ones we grew up with, but they still consume three to four times more power than an LED bulb that gives off the same amount of light). When our light bulbs (and other products) gobble less electricity, your utility doesn't have to generate as much it, which also saves having to build yet another multimillion-dollar power plant to keep everybody's lights on.

If everyone in America switched to nothing but LEDs today, the nation's electric bill would go down by more than $10 billion annually and we'd avoid the need for lots of coal-burning plants to generate power - and the accompanying carbon emissions fueling climate change.

Plus, LEDs last much longer. They're rated for 10 years--and some for 25 years--assuming typical usage of three hours per day. Compare that to old-fashioned incandescents that burn out after only a year. So not only will you save on your utility bill, you'll avoid the cost and hassle of having to replace your bulb every year.

Stop buying bulbs based on the power they use and start buying light

Another frequently heard question is, "What size LED bulb should I get?" Fortunately, we at the Natural Resources Defense Council developed a chart for that.


Historically, bulbs have been sold by wattage - 60 watt, 75 watt, 100 watt. A "watt" is a unit measuring the amount of electricity used but what we should be buying is "lumens," which is a measure of how much light is produced.

Basically, if you think you need a 60-watt bulb, you're looking for about 800 lumens. So even if you buy a 10-watt LED that produces 800 lumens you're getting the same amount of light as the old 60-watt bulb but saving 50 watts of electricity in the process. Clearly, the old 60W incandescent bulb was no bargain because it cost an extra $5 per year to operate, year after year.

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Pick a color, any color at all

Another lament about LEDs has been "the light looks different." That's just not true. You can get LEDs that produce almost any color of light you want. If you want a bulb that produces the yellowish white light just like your old incandescent, buy one marketed as "warm white." It will have a correlated color temperature of 2700 degrees K (a Kelvin, or K, is a unit of temperature and the color of light depends on which K it's at). If you prefer something more bluish white, or "cooler," look for one that has a correlated color temperature (CCT) of 5000K or higher. They are often marketed as daylight bulbs.

People's preferences regarding the color of their light vary a lot. Test your preferences by trying one of each before upgrading the lighting throughout your home.

As this CCT stuff is somewhat complicated, all new light bulb packages contain a lighting facts label that indicates the bulb's "light appearance."

Check that ENERGY STAR® rating

Not all light bulbs are created equally so be sure to buy models that have the ENERGY STAR logo. Not only are they energy efficient, they must meet other performance specifications to ensure they don't hum or flicker, or fail prematurely.

And if you haven't already done so, be sure to put an LED light bulb in your porch light before Halloween. That way you can leave it on all night to show off your jack o' lantern - and improve your energy savings year-round as this fixture is often the one that is left on for more hours than perhaps any other in your home.