How to Choose the Right Light Bulb
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by ComEd, our local electricity provider in Northern Illinois.
If you’ve been around here for a while, then you know I’m always stressing the importance of lighting in a home. A room with multiple light sources (overhead, sconces, lamps, etc.) will look much better than a room that just has one light source. (I dive into more details in this blog post.)
But even if you have multiple light sources in a space, there’s still another mistake you can make…choosing the wrong light bulb. Choosing a bulb with the wrong color temperature or brightness can change the look, energy, and mood of a space, so it’s important to choose wisely!
But choosing the right light bulb can be overwhelming. Kelvin? Lumens? Watts? LED? Incandescent? There’s so much to consider, so let’s break it all down.
LED All the Way
First, LED bulbs are the way to go because they last so much longer than CFL and incandescent bulbs and they’re much more energy-efficient. Every single bulb in our house is an LED bulb and we probably won’t have to change a light bulb for a very long time! So I will always encourage you to buy LED light bulbs.
In the past, you would always look at watts when buying an incandescent light bulb in the store. Watts measure the amount of energy required to light products, whereas lumens measure the amount of light you are getting from a bulb. So you want to look at the lumens to figure how much light you will be getting, instead of the watts!
Choosing the Right Lumens
To put it simply: the more lumens, the brighter the bulb. Typically when you buy a light fixture, it tells you the wattage to use when choosing a light bulb. The chart below from ComEd helps explains which Lumens to choose for the incandescent light bulbs you’re replacing.
Chart via ComEd
For example, if you wanted to buy an LED light bulb that would replace a 60-watt bulb, you would buy one with 800 lumens. So when I buy a light bulb based on lumens, I try to think of the brightness I want for a space. If it’s a light bulb in a lamp with a shade, I often go for 800 lumens. But if it’s a light bulb that is exposed (like the ones in the vanity light in our first-floor bathroom), then I opt for less brightness…more like 450 lumens.
So, once you have the lumens figured out, it’s time to think about color.
Kelvin = Color Temperature
To me, this is the most important part of choosing a light bulb. You want to choose a light bulb with the right color temperature for your space because it changes the way an entire room looks…the paint color, the energy, the mood. It’s pretty important! So remember that Kelvin = Color. The lower the number the warmer the color. So 2000 kelvin will appear warmer (yellow) than 6000 kelvin (blue).
I only use 2700K-3000K in my home. These are often labeled “soft white”. If I go much higher than that, I run the risk of a room feeling too cold and sterile, which is the exact opposite of how I want my home to feel.
Save Money with ComEd
So now you may be looking around your house thinking, “Shoot, I have a lot of light bulbs to swap out.” That’s a-okay! First of all, if you’re a ComEd customer you can set up a free home energy assessment where they’ll swap out incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. (This is free…you don’t even have to pay for the bulbs!) I did that last year and shared all about my experience right here.
Or ComEd provides discounts on select energy-efficient lighting products at participating stores. You can use this link to find a participating lighting retailer near you. When you shop, find LED light bulbs with the ComEd “lower price” sticker in order to save instantly. Or you can buy them online through the ComEd Marketplace.
My Light Bulbs & Recessed Canned Lighting
Okay, so let’s discuss the main light bulbs and lighting I choose for our home. For most light bulbs, I choose 2700 kelvin with 800 lumens. These will often be labeled as “soft white” when you’re searching.
When we renovated our house, we added recessed lighting to every single room and used these LED cans. They don’t even require light bulbs (so cool!) and you can change the color temperature directly on the back of them! I have them all set to “soft white”, but if I wanted one room to be a little cooler I could easily pop it out and change the switch on the back. We also put them all on our dimmer switches. You can even retrofit your old cans with these and they’re easy to install. You basically just screw them in like a light bulb. ComEd has great discounts on recessed LED cans at participating stores and in the ComEd Marketplace.
How We Save Energy – Video
Having all LED light bulbs in our house saves a lot of energy, but we also save energy in other ways. I created this video showing you all the things we do around our house to save money and energy. You can view it below or over on YouTube here.
In the video, I shared a few energy-efficient products we have in our home like our smart thermostats and advanced power strips. Plus, the temperature sensor we put under Rory’s crib to monitor how cold it is in her room.
Creating More Energy-Efficient Homes
I hope this post was helpful (it was a lot of info!!) and that you’re now eager to convert to all LED light bulbs in your house. Now that you know the best way to choose light bulbs, I hope you’ll find ones that flatter your home and provide the mood you’re going for in each room. I’m telling ya, it makes a huge difference!
If you live in the Chicagoland area, definitely take advantage of all of these free programs, rebates, and discounts through ComEd. If you’re not in the area, check with your local utility company to see if they offer similar programs and discounts. Many do! Together, we can save energy, money, and make our homes beautiful places to be!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.