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Indoor Lighting: The Bright Way to Save

Lighten Your Energy Load

There are many ways to light your home using less electricity. But efficient lighting is about more than choosing a different bulb; it’s also about improving the quality of your life and home while paying less over time. Learn more here about saving money and getting more from your lighting.

Lighting Types 101

According to the Johnson Consulting Group, nearly 85% of household light bulbs are incandescent, while other common choices include halogen, compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LEDs).1 Invented more than one hundred years ago by Thomas Edison, the standard incandescent light bulb is the most inefficient bulb: More than 90% of the energy it uses is given off as heat, not light2.  Halogen bulbs are high output incandescent bulbs that screw into standard sockets and may be used in a home as accent or spotlights. Halogen Infrared Reflector (HIR) lights use a coating to recycle heat within the bulb and can be up to 50 percent more efficient while emitting a whiter light that enhances visual sharpness and clarity3.


Fluorescents = Savings

Today’s CFLs are the most common, versatile and energy-efficient lighting available. CFLs use one quarter the energy and are available in a wide variety of styles and colors; from daylight white to warm whites that mimic incandescent light bulbs4.  While they cost almost the same as conventional incandescent bulbs, they may last up to seven times as long. By replacing the five most-used 60-watt bulbs with CFLs you may be able to save almost $400 over a six year period! See table below to learn more about the benefits:

Light Bulb Retrofit Life Cycle Cost Analysis
Standard A-style Incandescent Bulb Spiral CFL Bulb
Energy Consumed (watts) 60 14
Rated Lamp Life (hours)5 1,500 10,000
Cost per Bulb6 $0.70 $1.40
Life of Bulb (years)* 1.0 6.85
Energy Use Per Year (kWh)* 87.6 20.4
Operating Cost Per Year** $14.89 $3.47
Savings Per Year NA $11.42
Payback Time for Price of CFL (years) NA 0.12
Total Life Cycle Costs (6.85 Years) $102.70 $25.20
Total Life Cycle Savings NA $77.50

* With an average use-rate of 4 hours per day
** Calculations assuming an average SCE residential electricity rate of $0.17/kWh

Next Generation Lighting

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are an emerging lighting technology with the potential for energy savings. They are long lasting and highly efficient7. LED’s have become the standard used in cell phones, bicycle lights, holiday lights, and even some household appliances8.  They are also used in stores, restaurants and outdoors as street and traffic lights as well as lighting for buildings and covered parking areas.

LEDs are made from materials like silicon and nickel. They can last 5 times longer than CFLs and can be up to 80% more efficient9.  The downside: Screw-in LED bulbs remain expensive at $10 to $40 per bulb.10

CFL Fixtures

Using a fixture designed exclusively for CFL bulbs rather than installing a CFL in your current lighting fixture may provide even more benefits, such as reducing the risk of the CFL overheating and helping the bulb last longer.

Use & Care

Proper placement and use of your indoor lighting and fixtures will maximize efficiency measures. Learn more about Indoor Lighting Use & Care ,  here to start, and how to light your home for the greatest efficiency and savings. Return to Lighting.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Indoor Lighting Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best equipment and materials for your home, needs and budget.

1Johnson, Katherine (2004), Residential Lighting Technologies in the United States: An assessment of Programs, Policies, and Practices. Intermountain Energy. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from johnsonconsults.com (pp. 3-7)
2Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A.( 2004), Home Energy Briefs: #2 Lighting. Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from rmi.org.  (p. 1)
3Ibid, p.4
4Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A.( 2004), Home Energy Briefs: #2 Lighting. Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from rmi.org.  (p. 1)
5U.S. Department of Energy. 2012. Energy Saver:  Types of Lighting. Retrieved October 8, 2012, from energy.gov
6The Home Depot (2012). Compact fluorescent bulbs product search. Assumes product offered as a 4-pack, tax excluded. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from homedepot.com
7Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A.( 2004), Home Energy Briefs: #2 Lighting. Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from rmi.org.  (p. 4)
9The Home Depot. (2011). LED Light Bulbs Buying Guide. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from homedepot.com.
10The Home Depot. (2012). Light Bulbs Product Search.  Retrieved October 4, 2012, from homedepot.com


This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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