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Light It Up: An Updated Guide to Efficient Lighting

By making simple changes to your bulbs, you can reduce energy use and save yourself a pretty penny.

| July/August 2011

  • Halogens are not much more efficient than standard incandescents.
  • Today’s LED bulbs offer ambient light.

Little has changed in conventional incandescent lighting in the past 200 years or so, which is why today’s lighting innovators have developed a wealth of alternatives to the longtime standard. If you’re hoping to brighten up your home (and your mood when you get the energy bill), check out this guide for some illuminating ideas.

Incandescent: A Fading standard 

Today’s tungsten-based bulb is little different than the original incandescent Thomas Edison invented in the 1800s. Thankfully, many more-efficient and longer-lasting options exist. Because it is the most recognizable standard, incandescent efficiency is generally the bar against which new bulbs’ efficiency is measured—efficiency is usually noted as the number of watts required to replace a similar incandescent. 

Halogen and Xenon: Dim options 



Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent, and “xenons” are a specific type of halogen bulb. In halogen bulbs, the glass surrounding the filament is filled with a gas from the halogen group, which helps extend the life of the filament. Though slightly more efficient and longer-lasting than conventional incandescents, halogens are still inefficient.

Compact Fluorescents: Seeing the light 



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