1 - LED Lighting

Electrify Brookline | How-To Guide #1

Want to save money every month on your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time? Then it’s time to change EVERY light bulb in your home to energy-efficient LEDs! These days, it is easy to buy LED light bulbs at supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware stores, big box stores, or through online retailers.

What Is an LED light bulb?

LED stands for light emitting diode. Energy-saving LED bulbs produce light up to 90% more efficiently than traditional incandescent light bulbs. They work by passing an electrical current through a microchip, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs and the result is visible light. The size and shape of LED bulbs can look very similar to typical 60- or 75-watt incandescent bulbs, but the tiny print on the bulb will indicate that their wattage (and energy use) is very low – typically less than 15 watts.

How Can This Help the Climate?

Lighting contributes to your carbon footprint AND to your electricity bill. LED light bulbs use significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs, and new LED light bulbs can last 10 years or more!

What’s Involved?

Create an organized list: Start with a floor plan of your home or a list of each of the rooms and write down notes about all of the incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs to replace with LED. Some bulbs will be in light fixtures installed on the wall or ceiling;; some will be in table or floor lamps. Be sure to include light bulbs in closets, hallways, basements and other areas of your home.

Verify the bulb details: For each bulb to be replaced, note all the details so you can select the proper replacement bulb:

Different kinds of light bulb

  • Is the bulb standard size and shape (“general purpose” or “A19”), or is it a special shape such as a globe, flood light, or candle flame shape?
  • Is the bulb screw base standard size or is it a special type (usually on smaller bulbs)?
  • Is the bulb in an enclosed fixture, or is the bulb open to the surrounding air?
  • Is the lamp or light fixture controlled by a standard on/off switch, or is there a dimmer switch or timer switch, or is it a lamp with a 3-way bulb (low/medium/high settings)?
  • What is the wattage of the incandescent or fluorescent bulb?

The image shows incandescent bulbs on left, LED replacement bulbs on the right. When you head to the store with your list of bulbs, be sure to find LED replacements that match the details of the existing bulbs – size, shape, screw base type, equivalent wattage, etc. If you have some non-standard bulbs, you may need to take samples to the store to verify that you are selecting the correct LED replacement. Look for bargains! You can purchase heavily discounted bulbs online through the MassSave program. At local home improvement stores, some LED bulbs may also be offered with a MassSave discount.

Because LED bulbs last much longer than incandescents, you may only have to do this bulb replacement project once, so it’s important to gather all of the details and shop in an organized way to have the greatest success.

What Choices Are There?

Where information is located on a light bulb box.

  • LED bulbs come in various color temperatures noted as Soft White (2700K) to provide a warm light similar to incandescent bulbs or Bright White (3000K - 3500K) similar to fluorescent. Bulbs noted as Daylight (5000K) will likely seem too harsh for a home.
  • If needed, ensure that the bulb is suitable for enclosed fixtures.
  • If needed, look for indications that the bulb is dimmable. Note that dimmer switches used with incandescent or fluorescent bulbs may not work with LED bulbs, and the switch may need to be replaced by an electrician (see below).
  • Low voltage LED replacement bulbs are available for standard screw-in bulbs as well as those typically found in recessed lighting fixtures.  Check to make sure they are compatible with your fixtures before you make a purchase.

Other Considerations

If you are replacing any fluorescent bulbs, these bulbs contain small amounts of toxic substances inside the bulb and need to be recycled at stores with bulb recycling bins, or through Household Hazardous Waste collections – they should NOT be included in your weekly trash collection.

Costs

LED bulbs may be a bit more expensive, but prices continue to go down. And LED bulbs can last 10 years or longer – an excellent investment.

Questions Around Electricity

There are some situations where you (or your landlord) may need to hire an electrician to complete parts of the LED bulb replacement in your home:

  • If a dimmer switch or timer switch needs to be replaced to an LED compatible device
  • Where it may be better to replace a light fixture with a new LED model, such as a linear fluorescent strip or circline light fixtures

Available Rebates and Tax Credits

If you schedule a no-cost home energy assessment from MassSave, you can often get free LED replacement bulbs. MassSave home energy assessments are available for homeowners, condo owners, renters, and landlords.

About Electrify Brookline

Electrify Brookline is a collaboration between the Town of Brookline’s Zero Emissions Advisory Board (ZEAB), Mothers Out Front Brookline (MOF) and Climate Action Brookline (CAB). Our goal is to provide clear information to guide the community on the path toward electrification – improving the energy efficiency, health and comfort of their living spaces while reducing climate-damaging emissions to preserve a livable future for all.

IMPORTANT: Verify with your installers that they have the proper licenses and insurance, and confirm that they have or will obtain all required permits and inspections from the Town of Brookline.


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