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How to Pick your Light Bulbs for Energy Efficiency

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) come in all sorts of colors, which is not necessarily a good thing!

When you go shopping for a light bulb, a good recommendation is to look for bulbs that list the CRI, which is the Color Rendering Index. The CRI is a comparison of the bulbs light to natural sun light. You should also look for the bulb's color temperature, which is an indication of the color of the light. A good neutral color bulb would have a CRI of 84 or higher, and a temperature of around 4000 Kelvin. Higher Kelvin temperatures will give a more blue light, and cooler temperatures tend toward yellow and then red. Direct sunlight is at 4800 Kelvin, a little blue, but this may be a little too blue for your liking.

"Instant Start" or short start times, for CFL or tube type fluorescents is also desirable. Instant Start should not be confused with "Rapid Start" which some might not consider all that rapid. However, rapid start, while slower than instant start, tends to increase bulb life, so if you don't mind the wait, this may be the right start for you.

For tube type fluorescent lighting, you can use the same CRI and color temperature recommendations. Tube type fluorescents can have CRIs in the 90s. It is also recommended to use "low harmonic" and "instant start" electronic ballasts when using tube type fluorescent fixtures in the home.

LED efficiency is very similar to both CFL and tube type fluorescent efficiency. The big advantage of LEDs is the life of the bulbs. Changing bulbs may become a once in a lifetime event with LEDs. CRIs and color temperature still apply.

Induction lighting is a type of fluorescent lighting that does not require a spark to start the lamp, which greatly increases its life. Induction lighting is another big energy saver with longer life.

Finding Your Bulbs
Manufacturers' web sites are one of your best sources for finding technical information.,,, and other manufacturer and sales web sites can provide you with additional information on lighting and lighting fixtures. If you can't find information on the bulbs when you're in the store, you can use these sites to find information on lighting CRIs and color temperature. Once you find the bulb you want, the manufacturer's web site will often also have a store locator to help you find a place to buy your bulbs.

NOTE: Manufacturer information is provided as an example, and for information only, and is not a recommendation of any kind.

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