We’ve all heard this one: How many (insert type of person here) does it take to change a lightbulb? While the comedic value of the answer sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, the underlying principle—simple changes can become needlessly complicated—stays the same.
The average home contains 40 light fixtures, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Thanks to a series of staggered federal standards and more lighting choices than ever before, the average homeowner could save $50 or more each year by using more energy-efficient lightbulbs.
Federal regulations now prohibit the manufacture of any bulb not meeting specific energy efficiency standards. This doesn’t mean traditional incandescent bulbs went away, but keep in mind that those bulbs waste 90 percent of your lighting costs as heat.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs slash energy use by 75 percent compared to incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
But for folks who don’t like the pigtail CFL shape or who worry about the very small amount of mercury in these bulbs, another, brighter option is available: LED bulbs. These bulbs require 75–80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last 25 times longer—by far the longest life span yet. While the upfront cost for LEDs is slightly higher, the savings over the 20 years or more the bulb will last makes it a great investment. They are particularly advantageous for light fixtures that are difficult to access.
CFLs and LEDs are available in a variety of brightnesses, come in several hues and offer styles for all types of light fixtures—from chandeliers with dimmers to floodlights.
So what’s the punchline? Every time you change a lightbulb, buy a more efficient replacement. No matter which you opt for, you’ll save money every time you flip a light switch—and that’s nothing to chuckle about.