An LED energy-saving light bulb at the front of a flying v formation, with incandescent bulbs making up the posterior

Most of us take light bulbs for granted. These valuable devices have been illuminating our lives for so long that we often forget that their technology is still evolving and becoming more efficient. However, some may worry that we sacrifice brightness when we pursue energy conservation.

This article will compare the power energy-saving and traditional light bulbs require to produce equal levels of brightness—we’ll break down each of the primary bulb options and explain how they measure their power and brightness. 

So without further ado, let’s jump in!

Are Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Brighter Than Conventional Ones?

Energy-saving light bulbs create not only the same brightness levels as older, traditional ones, but often more light to boot. LED lights (the most efficient bulb), are also much more durable than conventional bulbs, saving money in the long run. They also don’t generate as much heat and can create light in any color/Kelvin temperature.

Energy Saving vs. Regular Bulbs: Brightness Comparison Chart

Light bulbs measure their brightness in lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. 

Each bulb, whether energy-efficient or the classic incandescent variety, measures the energy it uses to create light using watts. Energy-efficient light bulbs use fewer watts than traditional incandescent lighting to achieve the same brightness.

The ratio of lumens to wattage dictates how energy-efficient a bulb is. High lumens to low wattage means a bulb is energy-efficient.

Energy efficiency is expressed through lumens per watt or lm/W. A high lm/W number indicates a higher level of energy efficiency.

The chart below provides a concrete look at how many watts regular and energy-saving light bulbs use to create equal levels of lumens.

Incandescent BulbsHalogen BulbsCFL BulbsLED Bulbs
450 Lumens40 Watts29 Watts8-9 Watts6 Watts
800 Lumens60 Watts43 Watts13-14 Watts9-10 Watts
1100 Lumens75 Watts53 Watts18-19 Watts13 Watts
1600 Lumens100 Watts72 Watts23 Watts16-18 Watts
2600 Lumens150 Watts150 Watts40 Watts24 Watts
5800 Lumens300 Watts300 Watts85 Watts45 Watts

All four bulb varieties can produce the same levels of brightness. However, incandescent units require much more energy than newer, energy-saving light bulbs.

LED bulbs are handily the most effective bulbs. This strength is because these lights create high levels of lumens with low wattage, meaning they need only a little energy to achieve bright light. 

Light Bulb Types and their Brightness

As you now know, each bulb variety offers a distinct brightness. Let’s discuss the shine of each of the bulb types mentioned above in greater detail.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs created the standard. These are the pear-shaped bulbs many of us grew up screwing into our lamps. Unfortunately, they are not terribly efficient. Standard incandescent light bulbs create 14 lumens per watt. 

Incandescent bulbs contain filaments that energy flows through. These filaments heat up and create light.

A glowing A19 light bulb hanging from a fixture trasnsposed against a dark background

Incandescent light last 750 hours on average, which is only a fraction of the lifespan of an LED bulb. The market standard since 1879, incandescent bulbs are being phased out in favor of more energy-saving light bulbs. 

CFL Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFL bulbs, are made of spiral tubes. They fall immediately after incandescent light bulbs on the energy-saving light bulb spectrum. CFL bulbs create 63 lumens per watt. 

CFL bulbs use gaseous reactions to create visible light. Each tube contains argon and mercury vapor.

An electrical current pushes through the tube, creating an invisible ultraviolet light. The UV light agitates phosphor, which is a fluorescent coating. The reaction creates visible light.

a bunch of CFL light bulbs on a table with a black background

CFL bulbs were an early entry into the energy-saving light bulbs market. They use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 15 times longer.

CFL bulbs come in various types and have higher initial price tags than incandescent bulbs. However, they’ll save energy costs and require fewer replacements, saving consumers money in the long run. A CFL light bulb lasts for approximately 8,000 hours.

However, CFLs turn on dim and take a while to reach full brightness. So while CFLs trump incandescent lights for energy efficiency, they pale in comparison to LEDs.

LED Light Bulbs

Light-emitting diodes, or LED bulbs, are the industry standard for energy-saving light bulbs. They have begun to dominate the market owing to their exceptional lifespan and energy efficiency. If you want to know how LEDs compare to other appliances regarding energy expenditure, check out this article.

While they often resemble traditional bulbs, LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. LED bulbs use electron flow to create visible light and don’t emit heat. These energy-saving light bulbs create 74 lumens per watt. 

An LED bulb standing up on a surface with an incandescent bulb lying slightly behind

LEDs save users energy, space, and money. Initially, LEDs were about twice the cost of incandescent bulbs, but their price has lowered as they’ve flooded the market. 

In addition, these energy-saving light bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours, which translates to over ten years, so you don’t need to buy as many.

In practice, since they don’t always work in optimal conditions, LED bulbs last 4-6 years, but that’s still a massive improvement over other technologies.

How Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Save Consumers Money

The average American home contains 40 light bulbs. Replacing each of the 40 incandescent bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs saves around $300 per year.

Because LEDs have long lifespans, they don’t need to be replaced as often as incandescent bulbs. For example, you would need to replace a traditional bulb 65 times during the lifespan of one LED bulb. 

Additionally, LEDs use less energy to create an equal level of brightness. This feature positively impacts energy bills since you’ll need less power to illuminate a room. 

Closeup on a homeowner's arms who's swapping an incandescent bulb for a LED light bulb in a hanging ceiling fixture

Selecting the Right Light

Once you’ve decided between an incandescent, CFL, or LED bulb, you’ll still need to choose the correct wattage and lumens for your purpose. 

Additionally, lights come in different colors. Keep these factors in mind while buying a light bulb:

Brightness Level

Different people and rooms have different brightness needs. So while the traditional standard bulb emits 1600 lumens, those looking for a dimmer or brighter option will need something different.

LEDs use fewer watts to create the same brightness level as other bulbs, so if you determine your bulb selection based on the wattage, you may end up with a brighter light than you want. Base your choice around lumens instead, as they measure the bulb’s brightness.

Make sure you pick the correct lightbulb for the context. Larger spaces need higher lumens, but the suitable brightness also depends on the activity you usually perform in a room. For example, a bedroom primarily dedicated to rest and entertainment can be dimmer than a work office.


A bulb’s color helps establish a room’s ambiance. LED bulbs range from the standard yellowish light we often associate with light bulbs to bright white. The yellow bulbs create a warmer atmosphere, while the white ones are cool and bright. 

Light bulbs measure their color by the Kelvin scale. Kelvin is a measure of temperature. For example, yellow light has a lower Kelvin measure, while higher Kelvin temperatures denote brighter white or blue light. 

a color chart of the Kelvin temperature ranges of light bulbs, with orange yellow colors fading to white blue colors on the right side

While the color comes down to preference, some wisdom is applicable in selecting the right color:

  • 2200 to 3000 Kelvin – these bulbs recreate the signature yellow light of a traditional incandescent bulb. 
  • 3500 to 4100 Kelvin – these LEDs create cool, neutral white light that provides plenty of bright lighting for kitchens or reading spaces.
  • 5000 to 6500 Kelvin – these light bulbs mimic daylight. They are ideal for reading as it provides lots of brightness.

Some LED bulbs allow you to choose from a wide variety of colors in the RGB spectrum. 


Energy-saving light bulbs create the same brightness levels as traditional incandescent bulbs with a fraction of the energy. As a result, these fixtures have longer lifespans and ultimately save consumers money and energy.

LED bulbs are the most energy-saving light bulbs on the market, and consumers can happily switch to them without losing any desired brightness, warmth, or color.


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