Your new home is almost ready for the finishing touches and you are counting down the days till you move in. But, have you considered how you’ll light up your new space?
It’s a small, yet important feature that you may have forgotten in the planning of your new home: the lighting. And more specifically, light bulbs. Sure, you’ve chosen decorative pendant lamps for over your kitchen island, but what light bulbs will be used in them? Just like other features in your home, you can choose which types of light bulbs will light the way. Be sure to ask your builder which types of light bulbs come standard with your home and which bulbs are the best options for your new home.
These are a few light bulb options you have to keep your home well lit — we’ll discuss the differences later in the article:
- Incandescent light bulbs
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
- Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
Lighting the Way with More Efficient Light Bulbs
Turns out those traditional light bulbs that we are used to actually aren’t all that efficient. While not banned outright, 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs have been phased out for more efficient light bulbs. The United States mandated that inefficient incandescent bulbs were be phased out by 2014.
Lighting Options for Your New Home
Incandescent Light Bulbs
We mentioned that older, less-efficient incandescent light bulbs are no longer in production. You’ll still see that familiar bulb shape at stores, though, and these light bulbs must be around 25 percent more efficient than traditional light bulbs.
Newer incandescent bulbs are available at 43 watts, 72 watts, 150 watts, as a three-way incandescent light bulb or as an incandescent halogen light bulb (they come in 43- and 72-watts too), which uses halogen gas for better efficiency.
While these bulbs tend to be cheaper than other available bulbs, they are less efficient than the type of bulbs mentioned below.
CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights)
You’d probably recognize them as the squiggly bulbs. Known as CFLs, these squiggly-shaped bulbs work by driving electricity through an argon-and-mercury-vapor-filled tube. The process uses around 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. According to Energy Star, “Only use bulbs labeled as three-way on three-way sockets.”
Though an efficient light bulb, some drawbacks of CFLs are that these bulbs use mercury, making them difficult to dispose of (be careful when cleaning up a broken CFL bulb and don’t throw them in the trash when they are spent!), and they take just a smidge longer than other bulbs to reach full brightness.
LEDs (light-emitting diodes)
Many homebuilders recommend using LED light bulbs, which produce light when electricity runs through a microchip, which illuminates tiny light sources. LED bulbs are about 90 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
“LED bulbs generate less heat and use (less) energy than incandescent bulbs,” says Mark Funk, vice president of Phoenix-area Bellago Homes. “We use LED bulbs in most lighting applications in our new homes now.”
While Funk says LEDs are by far the most efficient bulb he has come across, Bellago Homes does sometimes use incandescent or halogen bulbs in kitchen or dining areas because some fixtures and most pendants do not currently work well with LEDs.
He adds that there has been a lot of progress, as the cost of LEDs has gone down over time and there are now more shapes and types available.
While LED bulbs are often more expensive than incandescent bulbs, LEDs are more efficient and last longer. That means you’ll have to change LED bulbs fewer times than incandescent or CFL bulbs — LED bulbs are supposed to have a lifespan of a decade or longer.
“People get hung up on price and they’re not thinking about energy efficiency and saving money in the long run,” says Jackie Graniczny, Sublime Homes’ designer. “But, once we point out to them that LED lights save them money and time, especially when it comes to fixtures that are installed high, they understand that LED bulbs don’t have the same home maintenance required of less-efficient bulbs.”
A Word on Smart Light Bulbs
Graniczny also mentioned that more buyers are requesting smart light bulbs for their new homes these days. Smart light bulbs — which are typically LED bulbs — can be controlled via smartphone, which means you can turn on your lights before you even get home.
Another benefit to smart light bulbs, Graniczny says, is that some brands allow homeowners to control the lighting color. That means you can change the color of the same light bulb to meet different needs, say from bluer morning lighting to a softer glow in the evening.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.