Brighten up your autumn: comparing your efficient lighting options

Installing an LED lightbulb

We compare lighting technologies, and clear up some technical terms

The start of fall means darker days and longer nights, and at many retailers across B.C., October means Power Smart Month. It's a great time of year to stock up on energy-efficient products thanks to big savings and special deals at our retail partners.

If you're looking to brighten up your autumn with new lightbulbs or fixtures, don't get overwhelmed by all the options. Between compact fluorescents (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogens, and traditional incandescent bulbs, you may be ready to just grab the closest package and head home.

But not so fast.

We've got all the info you need to choose the right lighting for your space, and we're breaking down some of those technical terms so you can compare all your lighting options.

Since energy-efficient bulbs last 10 to 20 times longer than traditional bulbs, it's worth making sure you get the one that's best for you. Whichever one you choose, it's going to be around awhile.

Handy comparison chart offers all the options at a glance

Many of us may be familiar with one type of energy-efficient lightbulb — the "spiral" type of compact fluorescent bulbs. But there are dozens more energy efficient available [PDF, 503 KB], from tri-lights and dimmables to standard bulbs designed to replace traditional incandescents.

Because ENERGY STAR® light bulbs and fixtures use much less energy, you'll save on your electrical bill as soon as you start using them.

Use the Lighting Technology Comparison Chart [PDF, 192 KB] to compare the energy savings of each type, and figure out which one is best for your needs.

LEDs offer "instant-on" capability and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit fixtures in your home. CFLs are great for hard-to-reach fixtures like ceiling pot lights and chandeliers, and because they come in so many varieties, you can find them to fit most of your existing fixtures.

Not all energy-efficient lighting is created equal. But choosing ENERGY STAR lighting means that you have the assurance of rigorous testing and the backing of comprehensive warranties.

For example, ENERGY STAR fixtures carry a three year warranty, — far beyond the industry standard.

Check out special Power Smart Month deals on lighting all through October

What do all those labels mean, anyways?

It's not just about the size and shape of the bulb. Choosing the right light or fixture means considering colour temperature and other features that are best for your home.

Here are some of the most common terms you'll see on energy-efficient lighting and fixtures:

  • Colour rendering index (CRI): the ability of a light bulb to show the colours of objects accurately on a scale of 0 to 100. As a general rule, the higher the better; light bulbs with high CRI (80-100 CRI) tend to make people and objects look better than light bulbs with lower CRIs.
  • Colour temperature: a measure of the light bulb's colour when illuminated, measured in degrees Kelvin. The higher the number, the whiter (then bluer), or cooler the light. The lower the number, the more yellow, or warmer the colour. Remember to consider paint colours and the colour temperature of your lighting together, when trying to create a specific ambiance in your room.
  • Compact fluorescent (CFLs): CFLs use approximately 75 per cent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. Unlike old tube fluorescents, there's no perceptible flicker. They are available in a range of colour temperatures from soft white warm tones, similar to an incandescent, to cooler blue tones for reading.
  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs): small light sources that become illuminated by the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material. They're generally small and sturdy, and they do not contain mercury.
  • Light output: measured in lumens, or "brightness". Lumens are the total measurement of light output from a light bulb. The most efficient bulbs are those that produce the greatest number of lumens per one watt of energy. You can compare the brightness of bulbs by checking the lumens noted on the package.
  • Omnidirectional light: light that shines evenly in all directions, such as typical A-lamps. CFLs and LEDs provide omnidirectional lights for use in your home

Learn more about ENERGY STAR lighting fixtures and more about LED lighting.

Save now with Power Smart Month specials

From now until October 31, 2013, our retail partners are offering great deals on energy-efficient lighting and fixtures.

Find a retailer near you and stock up on savings during Power Smart Month.