Shedding Light

January 5, 2011

Text by Cheryl & Jeffrey Katz

Using the right lighting goes a long way toward creating a welcoming space. Not only do table and floor lamps need to be properly placed and have the right look and feel for the space, using the best bulb type is equally important. Here are the ABCs about bulbs.

Incandescent bulbs produce a warm glow and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (making them the obvious choice for most chandeliers, candelabras, and sconces.) Though they can burn up to 1,000 hours, they are not nearly as energy efficient as some other options.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are far more efficient than incandescent bulbs, using more than 60 percent less energy. They’re more expensive than incandscents, but last up to ten times longer. They can be used with three-way switches and dimmers. Because they contain small amounts of mercury, they must be disposed of carefully. Federal regulations requiring higher energy efficiency in lightbulbs are quickly giving compact fluorescents a great share of the market over incandescent bulbs.

Halogen bulbs provide about a third more light using the same amount of electricity as incandescent bulbs. Since they emit a cooler light, they are best suited for task lighting—making them a good kitchen choice—or covered by a warm- colored shade. Beware when changing a halogen bulb; they can get very warm after they’ve been on awhile.

LED (light emitting diode) bulbs aren’t yet as ubiquitous as incandescent, halogen or compact fluorescent bulbs but, thanks to improvements in technology, are gaining in popularity.  They don’t cast as much light as other types of bulbs, but they are energy efficient and have a long life span. Available in a range of colors, they’re great for creating a bit of drama in a room.