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Bob Kelly                                                    Re/Max Main St. Realty
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Bob Kelly Realtor
Bob Kelly Realtor

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A Piece of My Mind to Bring You Peace of Mind

Have you gone into stores for light bulbs these days?  How did the simple chore of replacing a burned out bulb become something that requires an electrical engineering consultation before you make a selection?  Bulbs are not cheap anymore, so you want to be sure that you are getting the right kind for the task as well as the fixture. 

Why do we complicate our lives so?  I had no problem with incandescent lighting.  If I wanted a lamp to be brighter the most I had to do was look on the fixture to know what was the maximum allowable wattage.  If I didn't like the results, well bulbs were inexpensive so how far wrong could I go?

Not today.  The choice of types and wattage conversions are as vast and confusing as going to the store for milk. Too much to choose from and no one in the stores seems to know any more than I do.

This month's newsletter sheds a little light (sorry just I couldn't help  myself) on the different types of light bulbs;  their pros & cons, and while we're at it what decor colors work best with these types of lighting.  We know that one greatly affects the other.

Good luck and "May the force be with you."

Bob Kelly

Choosing Light Bulbs Based on Your Fixtures
In the brave new world of light bulb choices, let your fixture be your guide.

By Karin Beurerlein

Light bulb shopping used to be as simple as turning on a light switch. Today, it means weighing priorities for cost, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. Since you're probably replacing bulbs one fixture at a time, here are some best-bet picks for each type.

Table and Floor Lamps: Halogen Incandescent

  • Light shines in all directions, providing a warm glow.
  • Dimmable.
  • Looks most similar to the traditional incandescent.
  • Uses 25% to 30% less energy than the incandescent.

Table and floor lamps look best with omnidirectional light. "You probably don't want a big bright spot in the middle of your lampshade," says Jeff Harris of the nonprofit think tank Alliance to Save Energy. "You're looking for a nice, warm glow."

Halogen incandescents provide that, and are good with dimmers. You may be able to find a dimmable CFL, but it's common to experience humming or flickering at low light levels.

For non-dimming lamps, CFLs are great if you can find a color temperature you like. 

  • Color temperature is measured on a warmness (candlelight) and coolness (blue sky) scale. LEDs, CFLs, and halogen incandescents all come in a wide range of color temperatures.
  • Buy covered globes or A-lamps - bulbs shaped like old-fashioned incandescents - rather than spirals if you can see the bulb and aren't a fan of the spiral look.
  • Otherwise, just go with halogen incandescents and don't sweat the fact that CFLs are more energy-efficient than halogens. Your still saving over a traditional incandescent and the glow is pretty.

So why not LEDs? LEDs point light in a single direction, although new LED-containing A-lamps are designed to compensate for that by using prisms or special coatings. But all that extra technology makes them expensive - probably not worth it for your bedside lamp, which isn't a big energy hog anyway.

Recessed Ceiling Lights (Kitchens, Family Rooms): LEDs 

  • Energy efficiency is key in high-use areas.
  • 80% energy savings over incandescents.
  • Bulb life (up to 50,000 hours) much longer than CFLs.
  • Shine light a single direction - rather than glowing.
  • Brighter than halogens or CFLs.

Overhead recessed lighting in the kitchen or family room gets lots of use, so energy efficiency is a big consideration; plus, you need bulbs that point light in a single direction so the light actually escapes the can or fixture.

LED reflector lamps, the flat-topped bulbs typically used as floodlights or spotlights, are designed to shine light in a single direction. And that means you'll get a brighter look with less energy output than CFLs or halogens. 

New conversion kits let you put LEDs into your old can fixtures designed for screw-in bulbs.

A word of caution: LEDs don't dim well unless they're connected to a wall dimming switch specifically designed for them. You can get LED-compatible dimmers at big-box stores starting at around $30. Same goes for CFLs.

If you do decide on CFLs or halogen incandescents for a warmer quality of light:

  • Buy reflector-lamp style bulbs, not A-lamps or globes, so the light isn't trapped inside the can.
  • If you have multiple cans, you can probably get away with a lower-wattage halogen incandescent reflector bulb and save energy while still having plenty of light.

Bathroom Vanity Fixture: Halogen Incandescents 

  • Better for showing color and texture than CFLs or LEDs.

Lighting over the bathroom vanity is a highly personal lighting choice, especially when there are women in the house. If the light isn't flattering to your skin tone or makes it hard to apply makeup, you'll be dissatisfied.

That's why halogen incandescents, with their pleasing light, are a good bet.

However, if the bathroom where you primp is a high-traffic area and you're concerned about energy use, experiment with CFLs in a warm color temperature and get a separate lighted mirror for your beauty routine.

Stairwell Light: LEDs 

  • Inconvenient fixtures are a good place to use long-lasting LEDs.

How many times are you willing to drag out a ladder and change the bulb in a tough-to-reach fixture? Take advantage of LEDs' long life by putting them in spots you don't want to revisit often:

  • Fixtures hanging in stairwells
  • Track lighting suspended from a cathedral ceiling
  • Cabinets
  • Ledges
  • Tray ceilings
  • Recessed areas

Outdoor Floodlight: Halogen Incandescent  

  • For security and efficiency, use fixtures with daylight/occupancy sensors.
  • Since outdoor lights aren't used often, not worth investing in LEDs.
  • CFLs don't come on easily in cold weather.
  • CFLs don't last as long as advertised when turned on and off frequently.

If you don't want to get new fixtures with sensors, you can buy a sensor attachment that screws into each socket.

Rarely Used Fixtures: Low-Cost Bulbs 

  • Opt for what's easy on your wallet.
  • Use the most energy-efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, in most-used fixtures.

If the total yearly hours for the fixtures in your closets, dining room chandeliers, and the naked bulb in your attic are low, go cheap.


Light Bulbs for Energy Efficiency and Beautiful Light
We decipher light bulb labels so you'll know exactly what you're getting in terms of brightness, color, and energy efficiency.

By Karen Beuerlein

Although the old-fashioned incandescent bulb is on its way out, you have more lighting choices than ever before. And that means making decisions about price and energy efficiency. But don't forget aesthetics.

If you wind up with lighting that's harsh, flat, or unpleasant - like when you're trying on bathing suits in a retail dressing room - it won't matter that you got that LED on sale or that it lasts forever. You'll wish it didn't.

For most home lighting, your choice boils down to three options, from most to least expensive:

  • LEDs
  • Fluorescents (including CFLs)
  • Energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents, which meet the government's new energy efficiency standards and aren't being phased out.

So how do you choose?  

Learn the New Light Bulb Language

Since January 1, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission has required a new "Lighting Facts" label. It was designed to help consumers break the habit of picking bulbs based on wattage to determine brightness. Now a metric called lumens is used for this task. Wattage only measures the amount of power a light bulb consumes.

Here's an example: If you want to replace a 100-watt incandescent with an LED bulb and get the same brightness as the old bulb, you'd need a 27-watt LED bulb with an output of 1,600 lumens.


How to Read the New Label

While the new light bulb lingo sounds pretty complicated, it's not once you get the gist. Here's a breakdown of the "Lighting Facts" label:

Brightness: Here's a quick tip: the brighter the light bulb, the higher the number. Standard bulbs range from 250 to 2,600 lumens.


Estimated Yearly Energy Cost: How does this add up? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by upgrading 15 traditional incandescents in your home with energy-saving bulbs, you can save about $50 per year on your energy bill. Plus, energy-efficient bulbs produce about 75% less heat, so you may see additional savings when it comes to home cooling.


Life: The life of each bulb is estimated based on the usage described. Keep in mind that labels marked Energy Star meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Energy Star LEDs use about 25% of the energy and can last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.

Energy Star CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last 10 times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent.


Light Appearance: Terms such as "soft white" don't mean the same thing from brand to brand. To compare bulbs, you need to know their color temperature, which is measured in kelvins on a scale of 1,000 (the warmest - think candlelight) to 10,000 (the coolest - like a blue sky). LEDs, CFLs, and halogen incandescents all come in a wide range of color temperatures.

Here's a quick kelvin breakdown for easy reference:

  • The 2700-3000K range is warm and inviting.
  • 3500K casts a neutral light.
  • 4100K casts a cool and bright light.
  • The 5500K-6500K range is closest to daylight.

Energy Used: As we mentioned above, wattage now only measures energy usage, not brightness. So the lower the wattage, the less energy used.


Contains Mercury: Have no fear; only CFLs have a small amount of mercury, so you won't see this if you are purchasing LEDs or energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents.


What's Not on the Label?

Not all specs are covered on the FTC label.  So we suggest searching for bulbs online if you're seeking something really specific. You can often find the necessary info on manufacturers' websites. Stuff you can look for includes:


How well the bulb shows off colors and textures. This is the key to whether you'll be satisfied with the quality of light you get. Look for the color rendering index (CRI), a measurement of 1 to 100. The higher the bulb's score, the better.

Incandescent halogen bulbs score a perfect 100. CFLs and LEDs don't fare as well as a group, although some individual bulbs get high scores.


How the bulb casts off its light (in technical terms, beam spread). Let's say you use track lighting to highlight a piece of artwork. "If you want to light a 15x9-in. picture on the wall, you don't need a 4x4-ft. spread of light," Witte says. "To be energy-efficient, match the beam spread with the task, putting light only where you need it."

Matching Room Color and Lighting to Get the Effect You Desire 
One personal note:  If you are planning to put your home on the market stay away from bold color choices.  Your red wall or dark carpet selection may look fantastic with your modern furnishings, but could turn off  buyers with a furniture of a different color palette.

Light changes color, so your lighting design -- a top priority for any remodel -- should help guide your color choices. Here's how.
By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

If you want to make your remodel project shine, finalize your lighting design before you select paint and carpet colors. The light you choose to illuminate tasks or set the mood will change the way you see color throughout the room. The Robin's Egg Blue you picked could look like Paris at Sunset under some kinds of light.

It's all determined by the way light and colors interact.

"People have to understand that the color of an object won't look the same 24 hours a day," says lighting designer Joseph Rey-Barreau. "I just had bamboo flooring installed throughout my house, and during the day it looks totally different than it looks at night."

The way we "see" color primarily depends on two things:

1.  The light that an object absorbs. Black absorbs all colors; white absorbs none; blue absorbs red.

2.  How the light source works. Natural light (sunlight) changes throughout the day and is affected by a room's location. Artificial light changes with the type of bulb you use.

How Sunlight Affects Colors

As the amount and angle of the sun changes, so will your room colors.

"Natural light should always be considered when choosing color for a space," says Sarah Cole of the Farrow & Ball paint company.

North-facing rooms: Light in these rooms is cool and bluish. Bolder colors show up better than muted colors; lighter colors will look subdued. "Use strong colors and embrace what nature has given," says Cole.

South-facing rooms: Lots of high-in-the-sky light brings out the best in cool and warm colors. Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will virtually glow.

East-facing rooms: East light is warm and yellowy before noon, then turns bluer later in the day. These are great rooms for reds, oranges and yellows.

West-facing rooms: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, while scant morning light can produce shadows and make colors look dull.

How Light Bulbs Affect Color

The type of bulb you use can alter the colors in a room, too.

Incandescents: The warm, yellow-amber light of these bulbs will make reds, oranges, and yellows more vivid, while muting blues and greens.

Fluorescents: This flat and cool light enriches blues and greens.

Halogens: These white lights resemble natural light and make all colors look more vivid. Using halogens would make the shift from daylight to artificial light less jarring.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): CFLs can produce either a warm white, neutral, or bluish-white light.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs):  You can buy warmer or cooler LEDs, and even "smart" LED bulbs whose color you can control wirelessly. "You can point to the color of the sky in a picture at sunset and make the light bulb in the house be that same color," says Rey-Barreau.
I hope you found these articles helpful.  Feel free to share my newsletter with family and friends.  And if you know of anyone who has any real estate questions, I truly would appreciate your mentioning my name.
Bob Kelly 
RE/MAX Main St. Realty
Cell: 856-304-5406
Email:  Bob @ 
Articles contained in this email are reprints and meant to be suggestions only. 
They have not necessarily been tested or endorsed by Bob Kelly or Re/Max