Switching from traditional incandescent to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs can save homeowners hundreds of dollars on energy each year. But when facing shelves loaded with LED bulbs ranging from $5 to $15 apiece at the local hardware store, we all find ourselves wondering: is there a difference? 

Do some LED bulbs last longer than others?

LED bulbs’ life expectancy can range anywhere from five to 20 years. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label, confirmation that a product’s longevity rating has been tested and verified. It’s also an assurance that other standards, from light output and colour to overall quality, have been verified. 

Are there other differences?

As with incandescent bulbs, light output (measured in lumens) varies. Most LED bulbs come labelled with their incandescent equivalent (an 8W LED produces light comparable to a 60W incandescent and so on). They also come in various colours, or Kelvin ratings. “Soft white” bulbs emit warm light and are typically rated at 2,000K–3,000K, while “bright white” and “daylight” bulbs give cooler, bluer light of 3,000K–4,500K and 4,500K– 6,000K, respectively. A bulb’s Color Rendering Index (CRI) describes how vibrantly it displays colours on a scale from one to 100. A CRI of 70 is average; around 90 is excellent and often pricier. It comes down to personal choice and budget. But when a bulb is going to be in your space for a decade or two, you want to make sure it’s a good fit for your home.

Make the switch

Make sure your dishwasher is full before turning it on. When you’re ready to hit start, be sure to skip the heat-dry setting for the dishwasher and let your dishes air dry instead. That heat-dry setting can be costly. De-select it and, based on one load of dishes a day, save up to $37 for the year.