It may be hard to believe, but lighting can be as much as 25% of your home’s electrical consumption.

On Jan. 1, the federal government mandated that 40 and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs- the bulbs we are most familiar with – be phased out and replaced by high efficiency bulbs, such as LEDs, CFLs and halogens.  In general, these high efficiency bulbs will cost more upfront, but will last longer and lower your utility bills.  So, net net, they should be a better investment.

First, a little primer on watts, because they play an important role in the discussion.  Watts are not, as many people believe, a measure of light.  Light is measured in lumens, with one lumen equal to the light given off by one candle.  Watts, on the other hand, are a measure of the electricity a bulb uses to produce light.  So the key is producing as many lumens as possible with the least watts.  So, for example, a new 13-watt compact fluorescent light can produce as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.  In other words, as much light with less than 25% of the electrical energy.

Here is a look at alternative lights

LED

LEDs
LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are generally considered the most energy efficient.  LED lights have been used in electronics for years.  On the downside, a good LED light can cost as much as $30 to $40.  But Energy Star-rated LED lights can last up to 25,000 hours with normal use, compared to 750 to 1,000 for most incandescent lights.  And they emit very little heat, reducing utility costs.

CFL

CFLs
CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, (the tubular bulbs that you see in the hardware store) are generally less expensive than LED bulbs, but are less efficient.  CFL bulbs can last up to 10,000 hours, and can save up to 75% on energy bills.

halogen

Halogen Bulbs
Halogen bulbs last about 2,250 to 3,500 hours.
The Energy Star Website (www.energystar.gov) provides a list of lighting fixtures and bulbs that meet energy-efficiency standards.
Finally, no matter what type of light you use, there is one more thing you can do to make your lights last longer and reduce energy costs.  Turn them off when you are not using them.