First, let's clear up a misconception: Incandescent bulbs haven't been banned. They are, however, required to put out more light with less energy. That means many old standbys, such as the classic 60-watt bulb, have gone away. There are exceptions, which is why you can still find incandescent three-way bulbs, which are specially designed for lamps or fixtures with three-way switches, as well as incandescent bug lights and appliance bulbs.
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- Your Guide to Navigating the New World of Light Bulbs
Your Guide to Navigating the New World of Light Bulbs
Halogen bulbs work in much the same way as incandescents, but they last much longer. They give off a brighter, whiter light than incandescents, so if you want a softer, more yellow light, halogens might not be right for you. Take care, however—halogen bulbs can get very hot, making them a bad choice for a kid's room lamp.
They're probably the most expensive option in the bulb aisle, but LEDs will absolutely last the longest of all your choices—up to a decade or more. They come in a variety of colors to give your room either bright or soft light, and they're incredibly efficient: The LED equivalent of an 60-watt incandescent lit for three hours per day would save $6 off your annual energy bill.
Compact fluorescents, or CFLs, stand the middle ground between incandescent and LED bulbs. They're not as expensive as LEDs, but they are much more efficient than incandescents, making them a popular choice. Although there are new color options, many people still find their white light too harsh. CFLs can fail if used for short bursts, in a bedside lamp for instance, so they're best for rooms where the lights will stay on a bit longer.
Bulbs like LIFX, WeMo, and the Philips Hue Connected Bulb can be connected to the Internet so you can control them from your smartphone, turning them on and off and dimming them even when you're miles away. This connectivity makes them perfect for the frequent traveler or gadget-lover, but the high price tag makes them an impractical choice for the typical homeowner.