Light Bulbs…..A Bright Idea!

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Light bulbs….. A Bright Idea!

Some helpful tips for lighting. 


Task lighting is tricky in the bathroom. Cool light is often recommended, but it can distort colors when applying makeup. So you may have to choose one characteristic over the other or consider halogen bulbs here. Decorative incandescents, such as some globe lights, aren’t part of the phase-out. Remember that lights over the sink can cast unpleasant shadows on your face; lights on either side of the mirror or medicine cabinet are better. Recessed lights designed for wet areas are fine over the shower.


Relaxation and romance are key. Dimmers and warm lighting can help, so look for bulbs in the 2700 to 2900 Kelvin (K) range. You’ll see this noted on the bulb package. Consider cooler lighting, which has a higher Kelvin number, for reading lamps or fixtures. Position those higher than the bed to minimize shadows. Skip CFLs in lamps in children’s rooms, where rough-housing is more likely to lead to broken bulbs. CFLs release small amounts of mercury when they break.

Family or living room

Getting the lighting right in these rooms can be complicated because there are so many activities going on. Standard ceiling fixtures and recessed or track lights provide general lighting. Table and floor lamps deliver task and accent light. If your recessed lights or track heads are adjustable, they also can be used to accent art or concentrate light in a specific area. Aim accent and task lights away from shiny surfaces, such as TV screens and glass-framed artwork, to prevent reflected glare. Remember, most CFLs aren’t dimmable, though halogen bulbs and many LEDs are.

Hallways and staircases

Instant light is essential, so LEDs are the better choice for general lighting. LEDs are also great for hard-to-reach fixtures, often found in hallways and staircases, because they last for years and years. If you have fully enclosed fixtures, look in the ratings for LEDs that can be used in them; many LEDs can’t because high temperatures can shorten their life. CFLs are fine for accent lighting, say, in sconces. Dark shades absorb light, so consider brighter bulbs.

Kitchen and dining room

A centrally placed ceiling fixture or recessed lights usually provide general lighting here, supplemented by under cabinet lighting for tasks. A fixture or two over the island and the table boost general lighting, and dimming lets you switch moods and move from homework to dining. If you have recessed lighting, the color of the can’s interior, which surrounds the bulb, affects light output and light color. A shiny metal reflector casts the most light but increases glare. A black interior reduces glare but absorbs light, so you might need a brighter bulb.


Safety, security, and ambience are important, but you’ll also need to consider climate. CFLs take longer to brighten the colder it gets and may not work in frigid temperatures. Check the packaging. On the other hand, cold temperatures don’t affect LEDs. Use floodlights or spotlights on the eaves or on the ground to illuminate dark areas for added security. Bulbs in the 2700 to 3000 Kelvin range emit a warm light that’s flattering to warm-colored exteriors, and cooler light 3500K or higher complements grays and can appear brighter. shopping tips: Reduce noticeable differences in the light color in a room by choosing CFLs or LEDs within a 200-degree Kelvin range of other bulbs in the room. Incandescents usually are 2700 to 2900K. When you’re replacing a few bulbs at a time in fixtures that are side-by-side, such as a row of floodlights, the new bulbs should have the same K number as the bulbs that are already installed. For the biggest savings, replace the most frequently used bulbs first. Buy just one or two bulbs to try them out. If you like the light, buy more. If you turn that fixture on and off a lot, use an LED. On/off cycling will shorten the life of a CFL. Buy just one or two bulbs to try them out. If you like the light, then buy more. Energy Star qualified bulbs meet stringent standards that are independently verified and are often required to get utility rebates. Some CFLs and LEDs are bigger or heavier than incandescents. Bring your old bulb with you when you shop to prevent getting a bulb that’s too large. Save energy with a motion sensor or a photocell that turns lights on at dusk and off at dawn.

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