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Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: Best Options For Lowering Your Power Bill

Updated on May 18, 2014
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Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: Which One Is Best?

Lighting technology has come a long way in recent years. From filament burning incandescent bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) now to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), the humble light bulb has finally caught up with the twenty-first century. The progression to efficient, energy saving light bulbs allows us to consume a lot less power without sacrificing any sacred light. Of all light bulbs on offer, LEDs produce the most light for the least power. With a life span of 20 - 25 years and no toxic chemicals upon disposal, LEDs are both the earth-friendly and the wallet-friendly choice all in one.

Top energy efficient light bulbs need to produce good strong light and display that light in as many directions as possible. They should operate quietly, and work with various fixtures - indoors and out, in a variety of positions, and with all the dimmer switches our modern homes now provide. And of course, they need to save you money.

There are many new LED lights on the market and the choices can be daunting. In this article I’ll teach you what you need to know about energy efficient light bulbs - how the technology works, how and why LEDs can save you money, and how the best bulbs on the market compare. So turn up the lights and lets get started.

What Is The Technology Behind Energy Efficient LED Light Bulbs?

Simply put, LEDs produce light by having electrons move across a semiconductor that has both a positively and negatively charged component. When an electric charge is applied to the semiconductor it increases the flow of electrons and they fall into positively charged holes in the conductor and release energy in the form of light.

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What Are The Benefits of LED Energy Efficient Light Bulbs?

The definitive benefit of LED technology is that the process requires relatively little power while producing lots of light. The less energy required, the lower the operating cost, and the more money you save. Using less power also results in the light producing less heat - about 50% less heat than a conventional bulb. The less heat created, the less things tend to burn out, like a filament in an incandescent bulb or the gas in a CFL. An average LED light can be expected to last for upwards of 25,000 hours and sometimes more.

When it does come time to dispose of your LED, a significant advantage over other energy efficient light bulbs - like CFLs, is that LEDs contain no mercury. Mercury is an extremely toxic substance that is highly poisonous to any living organism. Many jurisdictions around the world have very strict guidelines for the disposal of mercury and CFLs. This can be avoided altogether with the use of LEDs which are easily recyclable.

Another plus of LEDs is their "Instant-On" technology. CFLs generally pause a second before illuminating, and then take several minutes to warm up and reach full brightness. LEDs, on the other hand, reach maximum brightness instantly.

When choosing the best energy efficient light bulbs, some other factors to consider include the direction of light output, dimmability, and noise level - all of which I will touch on in the product reviews.

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How Can We Compare Energy Efficient Light Bulbs?

To make for easy comparison, each bulb I have chosen is a standard 60 watt-equivalent replacement for incandescent bulbs. Light color and intensity are two important specifications when comparing energy efficient light bulbs. Light color is quantified as light temperature measured in Kelvins (K). Standard Soft White incandescent bulbs are at the low end of the range at 2700 K. Bright White bulbs are more in the middle of the home use range at 3000 K. Higher up to 5000 K is considered Blue White, more akin to soft day light and the top of the range is 6000 K and would be a Bright Blue natural day light.

Light intensity is measured in Lumens. One Lumen can roughly be described as the amount of light produced by one candle. A typical 40 watt incandescent bulb will generally produce around 350-550 Lumens. A 60 watt bulb will produce about 700-900 Lumens and a 100 watt about 1400-1700 Lumens.

With these points in mind, lets take a look at these four top energy efficient light bulbs.

Philips LED 10.5 Watt: Among The Most Efficient, Energy Saving Light Bulbs

The Philips LED 10.5 watt is one of the top energy efficient light bulbs, offering the vast benefits of an LED coupled with the reliability of a proven manufacturer, all at a great price. Philips has been a leading innovator in the field for decades; their lighting products consistently rank at the top in terms of quality and reliability ratings, for not only household lights but flood and grow lights as well.

The life expectancy of this bulb is 20,000 hours and will save you about $110.00 verses repeatedly buying incandescents. It produces a good 800 lumens of light with a color rating of Bright White at 3000 K. This makes it a good choice for a household setting where a little brighter than average light is preferable.

The light direction of this bulb is about 180 degrees, meaning light emits from the top and sides of the light but not down towards the base. This makes it a less than good choice for say, a desk top or end table application where downward directional light is needed, but makes it a great choice for any overhead fixture, such as above a bathroom vanity or in any kitchen setting with the bulb situated upside down as no light is “wasted” up into the fixture.

Philips offers a three year limited warranty on materials and workmanship, and my personal experience with Philips is that if you are unhappy for any reason, they will quickly replace the bulb or refund your money.

A notable feature of all Philips energy efficient light bulbs is their noise-free operation. Some LEDs have a slight humming or buzzing audible vibration but Philips has mastered this issue, resulting in a completely silent bulb.

If you are searching for basic energy efficient light bulbs, not operated on a dimmer, this is a great choice. It offers low power consumption, good bright light with plenty of Lumens, and a great brand name - all at a low cost.

Philips LED 11.0 Watt: One Of The Best Energy Efficient, Dimmable Light Bulbs

The Philips LED 11.0 watt is probably the best value of all dimmable LEDs on the market. It offers all the advantages of the non-dimmable light described above, but can be dimmed to about 10% of full strength light. Typical CFLs will only dim to about 50% and incandescents down to about 30%. Even compared to other LEDs, this light dims very low at a smooth constant rate which can be beneficial in many household settings - the bedroom or bathroom in the middle of the night, as a night light in the children’s room, or in the hallway outside a guest room.

Besides this great range of dimmability, the light remains virtually silent even at this low range. Many energy efficient light bulbs tend to hum or buzz, getting louder the more they are dimmed. If you have a quiet home or are considering using this light in a reading room, this feature can be the deciding factor.

This 11.0 watt light also has a long life expectancy of 25,000 hours returning an estimated savings of about $130.00 over the life of the bulb. It has a strong light output of 830 Lumens and a perfectly incandescent replicating 2700 K Soft White color rating, just right for any household application.

A good feature is the very wide Light Direction of this bulb of almost 360 degrees. This allows these energy efficient light bulbs to be used in any application, in any position just like you would find using an incandescent or CFL. It also comes with a solid six year limited warranty on materials and workmanship.

All these attributes make these lights definite best buys for energy efficient light bulbs. If you are searching for an all-purpose, dimmable, wide light direction, quiet option for use in any household application, this is it.

Enviro Bulb, 11.6 Watt: One of The Rare, Energy Efficient, Multi Directional, LED Light Bulbs

The Enviro Bulb Omni-Directional 11.6 watt bulb is a fully dimmable LED that has high output, strong color and is specifically designed to produce consistent, equal light concentrated to the sides of the bulb. It is one of the very few energy efficient light bulbs on the market that really does emit all of its light to the sides and none straight out the top. This makes it a solid choice for almost any table top lamp, or hanging fixture where the socket is horizontal.

An added bonus is that this light is designed for both indoor and outdoor use and is relatively short for and LED. At 4.4 inches total length, this light may fit where other LEDs won’t.

Regarding energy efficiency, this Enviro Bulb requires slightly more power than the others, at 11.5 watts, but produces a very strong 850 Lumens of Bright White 3000 K color making it bright and powerful. It has a long life expectancy of 25,000 hours and even with the increased power usage, will return you a savings of about $133.00 over the life of the bulb.

What make this light another top performing energy efficient light bulb is that it is also fully dimmable down to almost zero and has the same rare feature of the Philips brand of remaining next to silent even when fully dimmed.

The unique directional “fins” situated on the side of this bulb not only direct the light to the sides, but offer the added bonus of durability. If accidentally dropped or otherwise impacted, the plastic fins provide some good shock resistance that simply doesn’t exist with other bulbs. The fins also provide an insulating effect, allowing the light to be handled while illuminated.

As can been seen in the pictures, this is a distinct light that has been specifically designed to pour all of its light out to the sides. It has near zero dimmability, quiet operation, outdoor potential, is bright and strong, with durability and cooling characteristics that can really come in handy.

Switch LED 10 Watt Light Bulbs, Top Energy Efficient LEDs

At 10.0 watts, the Switch LED 10 watt dimmable, is among the most energy efficient light bulbs of the 60 watt replacement variety on the market today. Together with its long rated life of 25,000 hours, your expected savings is around $140.00, making it the best energy saving value of the lot. On top of that, the Switch offers a very impressive industry-leading lifetime warranty.

A very unique feature of this bulb is that it is liquid cooled. This allows the bulb to be used in any configuration, with any number of other bulbs, and in completely enclosed fixtures without the potential for over heating. If you have a completely enclosed fixture, this will probably be the bulb for you as the vast majority of LEDs have package warnings against use in fully enclosed fixtures.

Also, if the shape and esthetics of the bulb are important to you, such as in a location where the bulb may be visible, a real advantage to the Switch bulb is that it is the most similar in shape and design to traditional incandescent bulbs. At a short 4.4 inches in length and with its unique “pear” shape, it is a great option where the bulb is visible.

Drawing only 10 watts, it is to be expected that the light output is slightly less than other energy efficient light bulbs at 800 Lumens with a Soft White color of 2700 K, but this compares nicely with an incandescent bulb. Further, this bulb has a very broad light direction of about 270 degrees with equal light emitting from the sides and top, making it a clear choice for any interior replacement.

With all the advantages of shape, light direction, cooling, warranty, efficiency and savings, this bulb shines the brightest amongst all other energy efficient light bulbs available today.

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It's Your Home, Choose The Best Light Bulbs for Energy Efficient Savings

Finally, choosing the right lights make all the difference to the look and feel of your home. The right brightness and color will set the entire ambience of your favorite space. Take the time to consider the light direction your application will require, whether dimmability or noise from the bulb will be factors, or if the fixture is totally enclosed and heat may be a problem.

LED lights are designed to last for most of a lifetime. With that comes significant savings of both money and time as you won’t have to be out buying replacement bulbs and changing them every year. And when it does come time to replace the bulb, there won’t be any mercury or other toxic substances that are a serious hazard to your health and the environment around you.

Choosing any of these top energy efficient light bulbs will provide you, your home, your wallet and your environment with decades of enjoyment.

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