45 Days to America’s Light Bulb Transition: Which Will You Choose? Making a Budget-Wise Choice

Agree with it or not, in January, our lighting options are going to change.  Don’t panic.  No one is going to knock on the front door and confiscate your light bulb stockpile.  :) But, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce the traditional incandescent bulbs we’ve all been accustomed to.  Standard 100-watt bulbs have already been phased out in 2012, with 75-watt due to be phased out in 2013 and 60 – and 40-watt being phased out through 2014.  Those incandescent bulbs will be replaced with bulbs that conserve energy and lower your electric bills.  I understood that these new lighting options were better for the environment and for my utilities budget, but I still wasn’t sure I fully understood exactly what my options were going to be and how to make the best choices for our home.  In a partnership with GE, I received coupons and a gift card to purchase and try out some of the new light bulb options, so my family and I could determine for ourselves, which bulbs we liked best.  As with every Busy-at-Home review, the views and opinions expressed in this post are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the products.

light bulbs

Our lighting choices are changing and it's time to do the research to help us make wise choices. Saving energy means saving money and putting money back in the family's budget.

Up until this past week, the light sockets throughout our multi-level home have been filled with incandescent bulbs in wattages ranging from 40 to 100, and in styles ranging from recessed can lighting, to vanity lights, ceiling fan lights, lamps, chandeliers and regular ceiling fixtures. There are literally dozens of bulbs.  Some time ago, I actually tried to switch out  a few of our standard bulbs with CFL bulbs and ended up returning all of them to the store.  A constant flickering over the bar in my kitchen had me switched back to incandescent in that recessed lighting, within about 15 minutes.  The CFL’s I installed in our ceiling fans, office and living room didn’t provide enough light and several burned out in a matter of seconds.  I packed up any still working bulbs, returned them to the store and resigned myself to absorbing the higher energy cost of standard incandescent bulbs.  I clearly had a lot more to learn about making the change from incandescent lighting.

recessed lighting

This bank of three, 65W, recessed lights is over the bar between my kitchen and the living room. Sadly, I know they are flipped to the ON position for a large portion of each day. I know they are certainly on for much longer than the national average of 3 hours per day. The savings we realize here should be significant.

Initially, I expected to make the switch from our incandescent bulbs, to the new GE Energy Efficient Soft White Bulbs.  I learned that their halogen technology is the closest thing we will have to the incandescent light we are used to and they save about 28% on the cost of energy use.  As I continued researching at the GE website, however, it became pretty clear that CFL’s would net us the biggest savings.  I began my research in earnest, to learn how to know how bright the light given off by a CFL bulb would be and the types that would be best in each location in our home.  If I made that leap, again, I wanted to be sure it was a successful transition.

vanity lights

Fortunately, in a relatively short span of time, the technology has continued to improve and through this partnership with GE, I was given an opportunity to learn about and test it, again, through a fun homeschool project with our kids.  It’s extremely important to us, as a family, to find ways to build savings back into our budget, and involving our children in the process, helps us to be more successful, since they willingly participate when they understand the benefits.  It’s also a skill that will serve them well, as they become adults and responsible for their own budgets.  So, I agreed to create the project lessons and started researching what I wanted our kids (and me) to learn.

living room lights

This ceiling fan in the living room is the major source of light for a room with no window for natural light. It's on a good part of the day, especially since my husband has been injured and unable to work for the past 4+ months. This is another energy eater we need to tame. I had our son install new 40W CFLs in here and they are the special "daylight" variety. (I should have had him dust, while he was up there on the ladder. Definitely time to break out my telescoping vacuum hose.) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way these bulbs took the yellow tinge out of the lighting in this room. It seems so much more like natural light! It's considered a "blue" or cooler light and for this room, especially on gloomy days, it's PERFECT!

I wanted the kids to understand the new bulb options available to us, as well as their costs, not just in energy, but in their initial purchase price averaged over the life of the bulbs.  Could we actually save money making the switch, and if so, how much?  I sensed some great opportunities for graphing, charts and math calculations.  This was going to be a good lesson for the students AND for the teacher!  I created a household bulb inventory spreadsheet and then headed out to do my shopping, before working on my lesson plans.  If you want to see my entire light bulb shopping experience, be sure to check out my Google+ album.

household bulb count

Yup! You read that right! 73 incandescent bulbs in various shapes and varieties in our home. We're going to trade them out, a few at a time, over the next few months. I used Microsoft Excel to create a spreadsheet. I was able to shop from it and later added a few extra columns for recording energy costs of potential replacement bulbs. I have included a blank copy, below, for you and your family to use and I'll be updating you on our lesson progress in a post in January.


blank inventory

Click this image to print a pdf of this blank data sheet for your own family's use.

Once I had all the bulbs I wanted our family to try, for this project, I headed home and got to work on some worksheets I wanted my kids to use, that would help them understand the impact on our budget, just from changing out the light bulbs we use.  In the meantime, I put my son to work, installing the new light bulbs, I had purchased.

changing a bulb


I made worksheets for our kids to plot data collected on bar graphs and I produced an information sheet, with instructions on how to calculate energy cost of any light bulb.  I’ve actually created quite a few activities.  Some I will share with you, now, to get you started on your own home energy makeover and some I will share in January, when we have the final data on our project.

math formula example

This "Things to Know" page teaches some basic terminology and gives the formula, with examples, of how to calculate a bulb's energy use. This is a handy formula to have when measuring what you already use and how much you can save! Click the image to download a full-sized pdf of the sheet.


bulbs graph

Click this image to download a full-sized pdf of the worksheet.



Click on this image to download a full-sized pdf of the worksheet. You can plot data you gather from the other worksheets to create a bar graph of the comparative energy costs of each bulb type for your home.


And just in case the man in your life, needs a little extra convincing, to get enthusiastic about the savings you can net by changing your bulbs, I find that a good visual aid involving cash, goes a long way.  :)  Check out this fun video from GE and Walmart.

To learn more about all three of GE’s light bulb technology types available at Walmart/Sams, find out about the new light bulb legislation,  and scope out your own available alternatives and energy savings, try some of these online resources:

Energy Savings Calculator at GE website

GE’s Consumer Information Page on Lighting

GE on Twitter

GE on Facebook

GE Lighting options at Walmart.com

Lesson Plan with great info for kids on the Energy Star Website

Energy Star Event Toolkit with info on Lighting


I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and GE Lighting. A positive review was not required.  As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.  The pdf worksheets were created by me and are free for you to use or distribute.  #CBias #SocialFabric #GELighting


    • says

      Thanks, Brandie. I was shocked at all I didn’t know and how much money we were unknowingly throwing away, each year. In my next post I’ll be showing how our savings will be over $400 a year – meaning in 10 years we will have saved more than $4,000 just in the energy for light bulbs! That’s so incredible to me.

      I sure appreciate you stopping by and am glad you had time to visit! Have a great weekend!

    • says

      Thank you, Dagmar! It’s so great you got to come by! I have learned so much and I definitely feel better equipped to make the right choices for our home, now.

      David is still in a lot of pain, but physically stronger, thanks to the physical therapy. He will have an aspiration of the fluid in his hip joint on Tuesday, to be sure it is clear of infection. Please pray for a good outcome with that. As long as everything is clear, he will have hip replacement surgery on Dec. 26 and then we will begin the recovery process. We are feeling SO blessed to finally be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for your sincere caring. i appreciate it very much!

  1. says

    That is absolutely incredible savings! I can believe the 73 bulbs…I just did a count in the house and I think after having switched I bunch I still needed over 40 bulbs!

    • says

      I know, it’s crazy! They are just one of those things you have to have and so when you need some, you buy them. It never occurred to me how many there were, in total. Good to “see” you, Amy. :) Glad you could stop by!


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