You’re Buying the Wrong Light Bulb: Here's Why
You may think light bulbs are a boring topic, but think again. The lighting in your home can completely affect the look and feeling of your décor, and as we forge ahead into the dark days of winter, screwing in the right bulbs is of the utmost importance. Heed the following advice before you flip the switch.
Although we always recommend using an energy-efficient bulb, you may want something prettier if the fixture exposes the bulb. A beautiful chandelier or sconce paired with an ugly bulb can quickly become an eyesore itself. Certain types of fixtures require a certain type of bulb as well; a sunburst chandelier should have round bulbs, a candle sconce should have a flame-shaped bulb, and a fixture designed for an Edison bulb should indeed have one screwed in.
The brightness of a light bulb is measured in lumens. When buying a light bulb you want one with high lumens and low wattage (watts indicate energy use). Consumer Reports recommends looking, “at least 450 lumens if you’re replacing a 40-watt bulb; 800 lumens or more for a 60-watt bulb; at least 1,100 lumens for a 75-watt bulb; and 1,600 lumens or higher when replacing a 100-watt bulb.”
Just like how you spent all that time considering what lamp to adorn your nightstand with, or what pendant to hang in your bathroom, take the time to consider the color of your bulb. A standard incandescent bulb will give a warm yellow light, perfect for a cozy living room or bedroom. A CFL or LED will typically give off a whiter light, better for bathrooms and kitchens.
Have a feeling the colors just look off in your place? It may be because of your light bulbs. The CRI, or color-rendering index, tells you how accurate the colors will appear under the light. This is especially important if you’re an artist, designer, or any kind of visual person comparing colors all day. A CRI of about 80 is standard for interior lights.
The bulbs that last the longest and use the least amount of energy are LEDs, then CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs), then halogen, and finally your standard incandescent. Our favorite bulb of the moment is the Cree LED, as it lights the room like an incandescent, but uses at least 84 percent less energy (and is still dimmable). The pack may cost a pretty penny, but you’ll save in the long run.