How to Buy the Perfect Light Bulb for Every Room in Your House

Lighting is a vitally important part of any home. You may not realize it, but the way a room is lit can change the way you feel about that room—its objects, the activities you do in it, and even how much time you spend there. When lighting is that important to so many facets of a room, it should come as no surprise that different rooms require different lighting. Different lighting means different light bulbs. Here’s how to buy the perfect light bulb for every room in your house.



1. Know How Bright You Want the Room to Be


Know How Bright You Want the Room to BeDifferent rooms require different amounts of light. For rooms that often host activities that require intense concentration—think the kitchen—you’re going to want as much lighting as possible. For more laid back spaces—think living and bedrooms—the lighting doesn’t have to shine so bright.


A good word to add to your lighting vocabulary is “lumens.” The term refers to the brightness of a bulb; for example, a 700 lumen bulb is brighter than a 500 lumen bulb. A room’s brightness comes from the total of lumens provided by the lights in the room. LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs are generally the brightest options, followed by incandescent bulbs, but check the packaging to make sure you’re getting bulbs with lumens to your liking. This useful article from House Logic gives the following room-by-room recommendations when it comes to brightness:


Kitchens: 5,000-10,000 total lumens
Bathrooms: 4,000-8,000 total lumens
Bedrooms: 2,000-4,000 total lumens
Living Rooms: 1,500-3,000 lumens
Dining Rooms: 3,000-6,000 lumens
Home Offices: 3,000-6,000 lumens



2. Know How Much You’re Willing to Spend in the Short and Long Term


Know How Much Youre Willing to Spend in the Short and Long TermLight bulb shopping is an exercise in short-term vs. long-term budgeting. The three major light bulb options are incandescent lights, CFLs, and LED light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs offer more inviting light, and they’re the cheapest short- term option. However, they also use the most energy and last the least amount of time. CFLs are the second cheapest short-term option, and they offer more light than incandescent bulbs by a factor of six or seven. Finally, LED bulbs are expensive up front, but they use a startlingly low wattage, and they last upwards of 25,000 hours. The bulb you choose depends on what your needs are.



3. Know When to Trust the Experts!


Know When to Trust the ExpertsSometimes, experts make energy planning simple for all of us. Real Simple gives us a wonderful, comprehensive room-by-room guide on which light bulb to buy. Here are their recommendations:


Kitchen: GE Lighting Reveal High-Definition Dimmable Bulb ($10 for two) OR EcoSmart Bright White Dimmable LED Bulb ($33 for six)
Bathroom: EcoSmart Soft White G25 Dimmable Frosted LED Bulb ($20 for three)
Bedroom: Philips Dimmable LED Warm-Glow-Effect Bulb ($8)
Living Room: Utilitech Soft White LED Decorative Bulb ($9)
Hallway: EcoSmart Soft White Dimmable LED Bulb ($30 for six)
Dining Room: Bulbrite 776609 7W LED Bulb, ($13)



You can’t go wrong when consulting the experts. You’ll notice they recommend LED bulbs for every room in the house, which go a long way toward saving energy. So for an easy way to save energy, try LED bulbs if you haven’t already. And learn more about the energy-saving power of LED lighting here.


CFLs: The Good and The Bad

Compact florescent lamps (CFLs) are known to be the energy-saving light. While these lights use a little bit more energy when first turned on, CFLs use about 70% less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulb once the electricity starts moving. However, as with any product, there are drawbacks as well as benefits. So are CFLs worth the small investment? Let’s weigh the pros and the cons . . .



Compact Florescent Lamp Pros


  • Once plugged in, CFLs do save more than half the energy than incandescent light bulbs. The bulbs also produce about 75 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, not only making them more environmentally sound, but safer as well.
  • While CFLs are a little costly to buy upfront, the bulbs save users about $40 per month in electricity costs over the span of the bulb’s lifetime. So, a $4 charge for the bulb is nothing compared to the hefty monthly savings.
  • One bulb can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of pounds.
  • CFLs give off a large amount of light. People don’t often realize that a 23-watt CFL can give the equivalent of 100 watts in light output without exceeding the maximum wattage in a lamp.

Compact Florescent Lamp Cons


  • Studies have shown that CFLs can often dim quickly over the course of its lifespan. These bulbs may save energy, but it’s best to buy them in bulk in case they begin to dim sooner than expected.
  • CFLs contain small amounts of toxic mercury, about 4-5 mg. This toxin can be harmful to both humans and the environment if the bulbs are not disposed of properly.
  • Sometimes, the bulbs need a few minutes to “warm up” and reach full light potential.
  • CFLs do not work well with a dimming switch.
  • This type of light is meant to be switched “on” for long periods of time. Turning a CFL on and off frequently can reduce its lifespan significantly.