Light Bulbs 101: What You Don’t Know May Be Costing You Money! #CBias

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If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a light bulb that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

Have you replace your old light bulbs?

Are you still waiting?

If you haven’t switched to Energy Star light bulbs yet, I hope you will after reading this post!

Q:  What is an Energy Star light bulb?

A:  Earning the ENERGY STAR means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Lighting products that have earned the ENERGY STAR deliver exceptional features, while using less energy.

Q:  Is an Energy Star light bulb one of those twisty, tube-y looking things?

A:  The Energy Star qualification is given to certain CFLs (Compact fluorescent light bulbs)  and LEDs.  Yes the CFLs are the twisty, tube-y looking light bulbs (that’s a technical term, hehehe).

Q:  What is the difference between “regular” light bulbs and CFLs?  Why do CFLs save so much energy?

A:  What we think of as the “old, regular” light bulbs are incandescent bulbs.  Incandescent light bulbs work by heating a tungsten filament, or wire, until it glows. This is what produces the light you see. Unfortunately, 90% of the energy used to generate that light is wasted as heat, making incandescent bulbs a very inefficient way to light your home. CFLs, on the other hand, create a chemical reaction among gasses located inside the glass tube, causing phosphors to illuminate.  Energy Star qualified CFLs provide bright, warm light and use 75% less energy, produce 75% less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer.

Q:  The displays at the store are overwhelming!  How do I know what to buy?

A:  To save the maximum amount of energy, look for the Energy Star logo.  Once you find bulbs that qualify for the Energy Star, look for the proper wattage.  We are used to 60 watt, 75 watt, etc. bulbs.  The CFLs are designed to give as much light (lumens) with less wattage.  Thankfully, because we don’t usually carry a conversion chart in our purses, the package will tell you “equivalent wattage”.  So if you would have used a 60 watt incandescent bulb, look for a CFL that says “60 Watt Replacement”.  Some bulbs have longer lives, there are enhancements, like instant-on, and more details but if you get Energy Star and the correct brightness, you’ve gotten 99% of your shopping done!

Q:  How much money will I really save?

A:  I counted the light bulbs in our house:

Living room  – (3) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

Dining room – (5) Candle

Kitchen  (1) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture, (2) Flood, (5) Candle

Family Room (2) Flood, (2) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

Bathrooms (14) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

Den  (2) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

Bedrooms (6) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture, (3) Ceiling Fan

Hallways (7) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

Closets and Laundry Room (12) Lamp/Ceiling Fixture

and using the “Lighting Calculator“, we save $592 a year by using Energy Star CFL bulbs instead of incandescent!!

(Our electric bill says our rate is 0.097682.)

I thought we had pretty much switched all of our lights to CFLs, Sean jumped on the CFL bandwagon years ago – my frugal guy!  But when I was counting bulbs, I realized that we had an old light fixture in our guest bath that still used the incandescent.  We could have found round CFL bulbs but I’m using this as an excuse – time to change that puppy!  We went to Walmart and found a great fixture for only $30!  Instead of (4) 60 watt incandescent, we now have (3) CFLs.  According to the lighting calculator, if we switched (4) bulbs, we would save $26/year.  So if my math is correct, by going to 3, we are saving almost $32/year.  At least. More or less. Okay, I’m not really sure, but it’s a lot.  And pays for the new fixture!

"Before". Ew. I hadn't really looked at our guest bathroom for too long!

Nice! And only $29.97!

"After" - I love it! And I'm saving money - that's sweet!

Hmmmm, $592 a year!  That sounds like a mini-vacation.  Or most of the new washer I’ve been eyeing.  Or…. dreaming!

Wow, add a few more energy saving tips like:

1.  Unplug appliances and tech items when not in use.

2.  Turn off lights when not in use.

3.  Keep the thermostat at reasonable levels.

4.  Use curtains to regulate temperature, bring in warmth during the day, close in the evenings in the winter.  Opposite in the summer.

5.  Turn your computer off when your not using it.

6.  Unplug your phone after it’s finished charging.

7.  Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

We’re going to have an amazing vacation with the money we save!!

Are you convinced yet?

If you are still lamenting going to the twisty, tube-y bulbs, consider something like the GE Energy Smart, Bright from the Start bulbs.  Using a patented hybrid technology with a halogen capsule that gives instant brightness, the Bright from the Start bulbs offer incandescent-like performance with outstanding energy efficiency.  The ones shown below that I put in our new fixture have an outside casing that hides the tubes so they even have an appearance similar to incandescent.  Perhaps that will ease the transition in your house!

Need to convince someone else in your house?  Have them watch this funny (but true!!) video…

Need one more thing to convince you?  Here’s a coupon!  And it’s also in my sidebar.


To see my shopping trip to Walmart for the fixture and bulbs, from start-to-finish, check out my GE Lighting google plus photo album .

For more information, go to:

Disclosure of Material Connection:  All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.  I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and GE. #CBias #SocialFabric #GELighting

photo by: 401K


  1. 1

    Wow!! That’s a lot of cash, how awesome!

  2. 2

    Great job, and your savings on your electric bill is fantastic!

  3. 3
    Joan Cook says:

    Amazing article you posted! Thanks for all the details and insight!

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