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Lighting accounts for about 10% of the average Minnesotan’s home energy costs. Luckily, there are many easy opportunities to lower that energy use, from selecting more efficient products to learning to use them wisely.

Lightbulbs used to come only in the incandescent style, which converted only 10% of the energy they were given into light (the rest is lost to heat). Today, light emitting diodes (LEDs) have opened up a whole new world of efficiency for everyday lighting needs–25,000 hours of use in a single bulb. LEDs outperform all other lighting types in cold weather, and they do not contain mercury like their predecessors, CFL bulbs, did. 

Choosing a bulb that fits your needs –whether for mood lighting, reading, or detail work—has never been easier. With LEDs, there is no longer any need to worry about wattage as a proxy for brightness. Instead, you can gauge the relative brightness of LED bulbs by lumens. Here is a chart converting more familiar incandescent watt values to their equivalent values in lumens: 

Lumens  Incandescent Bulb Watts
2600 150
1600 100
1100 75
800 60
450 40

The only other shopping consideration with LEDs is what color you would like for the space. LEDs are widely available in the full spectrum of warm to cool, measured in units called Kelvins (K): 


If you prefer the traditional warm, soft color of incandescent bulbs, you can achieve the same effect with an LED labelled between 2700 and 3000K. 

Lastly, there are just a few special cases to be aware of when buying LEDs. If you would like to use an LED in a traditional dimmable fixture, be sure to purchase one that is labelled to work with a dimmer. Likewise, if you plan to use the LED in an enclosed space, be sure that the packaging is labelled for this use. 

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