LED vs. CFL vs. Incandescent: Which bulb is right for you?

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Maybe you’ve heard that CFL or LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient that incandescent. Do you know what that really means, or how to choose the right style of light bulb for your needs?

CFL vs LED vs Incandescent: Energy Efficiency

Incandescent light bulbs are the least energy efficient of these three options. They also have the shortest life span. If you have been using incandescent bulbs, switching to either LED or CFL bulbs will save you money, both by reducing your energy consumption (and thus utility bills) and by reducing the frequency with which you’re changing light bulbs.

A 15 watt CFL or compact fluorescent light bulb is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb, yet consumes far less energy. For LEDs, you need 12 watts to equal the 60 watt incandescent bulb. Your energy savings will increase instantly if you switch from incandescent to CFL or LED bulbs.

CFL vs LED vs Incandescent: Cost

Given that a CFL or LED lighting system will reduce your energy consumption, you may wonder about cost.

CFL bulbs cost approximately $1 more per bulb than incandescent bulbs. The typical price for a single LED bulb is $5 or more; however, you’ll earn back the extra cost in lighting hours. LEDs have a bulb life of 25,000 hours, compared with 10,000 hours for a CFL and 1,000 hours for an incandescent bulb.

Energy.gov estimates that you’ll save $75 per year by replacing the 5 most frequently used light bulbs in your home with bulbs that have Energy Star ratings. You’ll find both CFL and LED bulbs with the Energy Star designation.

CFL vs LED vs Incandescent: Light Color and Usage

Since CFL and LED bulbs consume less energy and save you money every month, they are a better choice than incandescent. These bulbs have pros and cons that might help you decide which is the right lighting system for your need.

Because CFLs cost less than LEDs, they are more budget friendly. The lights come in a range of soft, warm, and crisp tones.

CFL bulbs cannot be used with dimmer switches. CFL bulbs also take a couple of minutes to heat up to full lighting power. This may not be practical for areas where you need a lot of light for a short time frame, for instance in a bathroom or basement.

LED light bulbs cost more but last the longest. You’ll realize the most savings over time if you can switch to an LED lighting system. LEDs light up immediately and can work with dimmer switches. These bulbs come in a wide range of cool and warm tones.

The major downside of LED lights is direction. While CFL and incandescent bulbs spread light in all directions, LED lights concentrate the light. It won’t flood the room in quite the same way, so you may need more bulbs to illuminate a room.

Shop LED Bulbs

Given their superior lifetime and energy efficiency, as well as cost effectiveness over their lifetime, it’s clear that LED lights are the obvious winner. Save money by switching to LEDs today.