Milwaukee Edition
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Energy-Efficient Lighting

A guide to saving energy, money and the environment

Energy-efficient lighting is a fast, easy and low-cost way to save energy, but most households have replaced few, if any, of their traditional incandescent bulbs—which convert less than 10 percent of the energy they use into visible light and the rest into heat. By simply replacing the majority of the most frequently used incandescents with higher efficiency bulbs, the average American household could save more than $120 annually on energy and cut CO2 emissions by more than 1,500 pounds.

Overview of energy-efficient bulbs for the home

Halogen Incandescent: Similar to traditional incandescents, these bulbs are 25 to 30 percent more efficient.

Compact Fluorescent (CFL): CFLs are at least 70 percent more efficient and last eight to 15 times longer than traditional incandescents. CFLs now come in virtually all the same bulb styles as incandescents, including three-way and dimmable applications.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LED): LEDs are at least 75 percent more efficient and last as much as 25 times longer than incandescents. LEDs are leading the way in energy efficiency and new technological developments. Their cost is relatively high, but falling rapidly.

The chart below illustrates the comparative costs of equivalent bulbs that are used three hours per day. (Note: LEDs are not included in the chart because 100-watt equivalent LEDs are not yet available.)

Tips for finding the right energyefficient bulbs

Fit: Not all CFLs and LEDs work in all fixtures. Check that the bulb you are considering is recommended for use in your fixture.

Color Temperature: For a soft white light that mimics the light of a traditional incandescent, look for bulbs with a color temperature of 2,700K (Kelvin).

Lumens: Lumens measure brightness: watts measure energy use. All bulb packaging will indicate the incandescent equivalent. Quality: Not all CFLs and LEDs are the same. It is worth investing in a premium bulb to get the light quality you expect and to ensure the bulb lasts as long as advertised.

Incentives: Check your energy company’s website for discount offers and rebates.

Recycling: CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (less than 5 milligrams) and should be disposed of properly. Visit to find a recycling location near you.

Adam Borut is co-founder and president of Eco Hatchery, an energy efficiency and sustainability software and services firm. For more information, visit The Light Bulb Finder mobile app enables users to audit their current incandescent fixtures and receive instant recommendations for energy-saving bulbs, including financial payback and environmental impact. To explore the app and get additional lighting resources, visit

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Beyond Birth Control

The naturopathic approach to this issue aims to restore normal hormonal rhythm and balance by looking at hormones produced by the ovaries and then by looking at the body as a whole.

Citizens, Restaurateurs Reduce Plastic Pollution Through 
The Last Plastic Straw

According to the California-based nonprofit Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States. In today’s on-the-go culture, straws are typically used only for a short time and then discarded, ultimately becoming a source of plastic pollution in oceans and waterways.

Dare to Be Aware Fair Celebrates 11 Years of Holistic Networking

This year’s fair takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 14, at Alverno College, in the Sister Joel Read Conference Center.

Give Mother Earth A Fighting Chance

Unless society collectively changes its lifestyle habits that affect the environment, Mother Earth will not have a chance to recover from the abuse inflicted by humans for decades.

Ayurveda Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Baby

During pregnancy, Mother Nature has ensured that baby’s needs are more important than the mother’s; hence, optimal self-care during pregnancy is essential.

Connecting Kids to the Earth

These days, connecting to the planet doesn’t happen automatically–but we can change that.

Protecting Bumblebees 
Is a Gardening Must

Bumblebees are in trouble, and that means trouble for our vegetable gardens. Use these proposed tips to help protect these important pollinators!

Yoga Instructor Empowers People to Live Healthier Lives

Founder of Pure Energy Yoga, Shelley Carpenter, has found that yoga not only relieves pain, but can help bring the mind, body and spirit into harmony.

The Smorgasbord 
of Midwestern Laws

The Midwest has a great tradition of home cooking, yet, state laws are sometimes hostile to the home cook that tires to test the market or grow a homemade business.

Launching a Kitchen-
Based Food Business 
from Home

Depending on the relatively new cottage food laws in Wisconsin and other states, home bakers, picklers and jammers can now launch a food business from their home kitchen.

Rocker Neil Young Celebrates Food 
Democracy with New Album Tour

Legendary musician Neil Young and his new band, Promise of the Real, featuring Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah Nelson, on July 5.

Leaders of Milwaukee’s Sustainable Food Movement

Today’s metropolitan Milwaukee area has an abundance of small-scale and urban farms, nonprofits and community partnerships striving to make fresh and organically grown food accessible and affordable for everyone.