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Choose the right LED bulb for your light fixture

To match the look of traditional incandescent light bulbs, choose a bulb with a colour temperature around 2700K.
To match the look of traditional incandescent light bulbs, choose a bulb with a colour temperature around 2700K.

LEDs available in wide range of bulbs, styles

Chelsea Watt
bchydro.com

Does the idea of energy-efficient lighting make you think of cold, blueish-white light? Flickering? Unattractive spiral bulbs?

It's time to get acquainted with today's energy-efficient lights: ENERGY STAR® LEDs.

ENERGY STAR LEDs have little in common with older energy-efficient bulbs. They come in a wide range of bulb styles [PDF, 31 KB] for almost any fixture in your home. LEDs come in a range of "colour temperatures" too; including that warm light that many of us love from our traditional light bulbs.

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of older energy-efficient bulbs, including CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).  Most fixtures in my apartment are still powered by traditional incandescents. But now that 40 and 60-watt incandescent bulbs have been phased out, I realize that I need to find some energy-efficient replacements that don't remind me of a factory or a medical exam room.

I headed to Home Depot to check out my options and get some advice on replacing the bulbs in my basic kitchen fixture.

Starting October 6, 2017, go to powersmart.ca for savings on LEDs, smart plugs, appliances & more.

Basic LED bulbs offer same light but use a fraction of the energy

The light fixture in my kitchen currently takes three 60W incandescent bulbs. It's not the brightest fixture, but it has that familiar warm yellow light that I like. Reproducing that light with new ENERGY STAR bulbs was number one on my must-have list.

When I got to the store, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices available. Light bulbs used to be simple: choose the wattage and buy some bulbs. Now packages seem to have all kinds of numbers and ratings on them — and with wattages around 9W and 11W for "regular" LED bulbs, I can't rely on that to help me pick the right bulb.

Here's what I learned:

  • ENERGY STAR LEDs usually have a rating to help you compare bulbs to your old incandescents (e.g. 9W LED bulbs are often equivalent to a 40W bulb), but the best way to determine how much light a bulb will offer is to look at the lumens rating. The more lumens, the brighter a bulb.
  • "Regular" light bulbs have another name — A19. That's the standard light bulb size and base that will fit in most fixtures and lamps. But you can get ENERGY STAR LEDs for all kinds of fixtures [PDF, 31 KB], including globe vanity lights, recessed track lighting, and outdoor lights.
  • Colour temperature is what determines the colour of the light — the warm yellow-white we know from traditional light bulbs, all the way to the cool blue-white you can find in white LED holiday lights. Colour temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, listed on the package. To match the look of my incandescents, the staff at Home Depot and our Power Smart team recommended that I choose a bulb with around 2700K.

Check out our infographic on how to read LED bulb packages to help you find the right LED bulb for your fixture.

Image of kitchen LED light fixture
These new ENERGY STAR LED bulbs use at least 75 per cent less energy than Chelsea Watt's old bulbs, and offer the same light.

The results: a Phillips 9W LED delivers terrific light and energy savings

There are other energy-efficient options available, but I selected ENERGY STAR LEDs for my kitchen fixture. The ENERGY STAR rating means that they're saving me tonnes of energy, especially compared to my old incandescents: they use at least 75 per cent less power.

LEDs also offer other great features:

  • They're instant-on, which means the bulb comes to full brightness right away. Some older inexpensive compact fluorescent bulbs take a few minutes to come to full brightness, so I was wary of this when choosing my bulb. If you select CFLs for your fixture, look for the ENERGY STAR label and "instant-on" on the package.
  • LEDs last a long time. A really long time: at least 15 years for ENERGY STAR LEDs.  Not a huge issue for my kitchen light, but I have a few other fixtures in my home that are hard to reach, so not changing the light bulbs for over 15 years sounds pretty appealing to me.

Chelsea Watt is a writer-editor with bchydro.com.