Imagine More - Making Our World Brighter - One Bulb At A Time

Light bulbs literally make our world brighter. We often take them for granted as a necessary household purchase as well as an annoyance when one burns out and old needs to be replaced with new.

Ever since Thomas Edison was accredited with inventing the lightbulb in 1879, people have had the ability to see better. In the nearly one hundred and forty years from the first incandescent popping on to send a warm glow throughout an otherwise dim space to modern day, many improvements have come about for the humble little light bulb.

With a bit of research and forethought, finding the right illumination for your home or office is a snap.

Everyoneʼs familiar with the ENERGY STAR name. In 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR as a voluntary certification program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products, homes, and buildings nationwide. EPA's ENERGY STAR program has since become the most successful voluntary energy conservation movement in history.

What makes ENERGY STAR light bulbs better?

According to Laura Holmstrom, showroom manager of Imagine Moreʼs Windsor location, ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs “use less energy but emit the same amount of light, produce less heat and last longer” than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Imagine More is a Northern Colorado owned and operated luxury home products business with three locations - Windsor, Greeley, and Longmont.

ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs, which are sold at Imagine More and other home improvement stores, must pass a third party certification process including dozens of checks to assure quality, performance, and efficiency. Anything that earns the blue label meets the highest standards. The ENERGY STAR website page on light bulbs verifies Holmstrom's statement.

Each bulb:

  • Uses about 70-90% less energy
  • Lasts 10 to 25 times longer
  • Accrues a savings of over $30 to $80 during the lifetime of the bulb
  • Produces about 70 to 90% less heat, thus making operation safer overall, plus cutting energy costs associated with home cooling
Imagine More - Lenard Gale and Don Brehm
Imagine More–a luxury home products business with locations in Greeley, Longmont, and Windsor. Lenard Gale, Co-owner, Don Brehm, Co-owner.

Yet, beyond those beneficial points, people may still be reluctant to make the switch for various reasons. The initial cost outlay is more and there is often the somewhat difficult task of matching bulb to base and replacing lumen for lumen.

For decades, grabbing a package of light bulbs off the shelf was a matter of convenience. Nowadays, although there are plenty of advantages to transitioning to either LED or CFL, a bit more time and effort must be put in when considering which bulbs should go where.

“A LED lamp is the most energy efficient,” says Holmstrom, “and are similar to CFL in the fact you can choose the color temperature, either warm (yellow) or cool (blue). Incandescent bulbs will always have a warmer color temperature.”

The difference between bulbs

Wikipedia defines an incandescent light bulb as an electric light with a wire filament heated to a high temperature, by passing an electric current through it, until it glows with electric light. Incandescent bulbs are very inefficient because much of the supplied energy produces heat instead of light.

CFL light bulbs are Compact Fluorescent Lights. They are designed to replace incandescent lamps. They vary from incandescent lamps, however, by driving an electric current through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor.

LED, currently the most energy efficient of the three, stands for Light Emitting Diode. LED's are more efficient because they are made of semiconductor material that requires only a small amount of voltage to emit photons. Because the required voltage is very small, less heat is generated.

That ahah! lightbulb moment - using the right bulb for the times

Imagine More - Laura Holmstrom
Laura Holmstrom–showroom manager of Imagine Moreʼs Windsor location.

Recognizing an ENERGY STAR light bulb is the first step to exchanging outmoded products with contemporary technology.

“The logo will be on the package,” says Holmstrom.

All you have to do is look for the ENERGY STAR. Easily recognizable, the logo is a blue square, sporting an arch over the word ʻenergyʼ alongside a star. So as to avoid any confusion, the words ENERGY STAR are found below the image.

Logo - ENERGY STAR Certification
Look for this logo to identify ENERGY STAR certified products.

Holmstrom offers top tips for beginning the process to replacement

In order to know which ENERGY STAR bulb to use, she recommends looking at lumens.

“What wattage are you currently living with?” asks Holmstrom. “If itʼs 60-watt incandescent lamps in a bathroom vanity light, itʼs important to look at lumens when replacing your incandescent bulbs to CFL or LED. A 60-watt incandescent lamp will be around 600 lumens. So, you will want to look for a CFL or LED lamp with an equivalent lumen output to maintain, or increase, the current light levels in your space."

Another thing, she adds, “is that you have to be mindful of matching the base to get a proper fit if it is a specialty lamp or low voltage lamp.”

Not every bulb matches every fixture. Hereʼs where things can get a bit complicated.

“I always recommend reading the lamp package thoroughly,” says Holmstrom. “Not all CFL or LED lamps are rated for a totally enclosed fixture, like a ceiling flush mount, and the lamp will burn out faster if itʼs not approved for an enclosed fixture. Itʼs also important to note if the lamp is dimmable or non-dimmable. Each LED lamp will have a compatible dimmer list. LED lamps will flicker if partnered with a non-compatible dimmer. CFL lamps are usually non-dimmable.”

Another facet of choosing the best light for the best space is to recognize the color temperature of the bulbs.

Holmstrom explains why light from some bulbs offer soft golden-amber overtones, while others cast a brilliant, seemingly whiter, spectrum.

“The packaging will state the color temperature of the lamp. 2700K has a warm light output. Most homeowners prefer 2700K to 3000K. 5000K will be a cool color temperature. Itʼs important to be consistent with the color temperature of the lamps in your home. If you partner 2700K with 5000K, the color difference in the space will be very noticeable to the naked eye,” says Holmstrom.

To best match bulb with the space it is going to illuminate, Holmstrom recommends “2700K typically through the majority of the house. These go well with warm, neutral hues such as brown, tan and beige. 3000-3500K, or higher, fits well with cool tones such as blue or silver.”

An interesting note is that “putting a 3500K in the closet can help distinguish blue from black clothes. This is a very good color rendering lamp,” adds Holmstrom.

Should a light bulb need to be replaced regardless, utilize the opportunity as a prime time to start saving with ENERGY STAR.

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Author - Lynette Chilcoat

Loveland-based Lynette Chilcoat, a Colorado native, has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years.

20 Years of ENERGY STAR
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