Winter seems designed to keep people indoors. The cold weather makes venturing outside a chore, and by the time most people get home from work, the sun has already gone down. This means that a home's electric lights get more use in winter than any other season. While a home inspection won't evaluate your bulbs, they're an important part of your electrical system that can affect your mood and productivity. Many studies indicate that light can have a significant affect on how we feel, so it's important to find lighting that best suits you. Here's a breakdown of the common bulb types to help brighten your days:


The classic bulb that's existed for over a century, incandescent bulbs operate by heating a metal coil until it glows. While they produce a comforting warm light, they operate very inefficiently. They suck up a lot of electricity, run very hot and have an limited lifespan. Over the life of a single incandescent bulb, an owner will likely spend more than $100 dollars on electricity, which negates the extremely low purchase price for incandescents. This is a result of the bulbs' heat, as over 90 percent of the energy an incandescent uses dissipates into the air.  Despite the drawbacks, many people prefer the yellow-tinged light that these bulbs produce.

Compact fluorescent lamp

More commonly called CFLs, these bulbs are easily identified by their distinctive tubular design. They generally resemble a coiled spring and often produce a pure white light that some people find harsh and uninviting. In reality, these bulbs are a smaller version of the fluorescent tubes found in many office spaces and feature many of the same benefits and drawbacks. They are much cheaper to run than incandescent bulbs and last about 10 times as long. Unfortunately, they also cost more upfront and contain a dangerous chemicals. Unlike incandescents, which only contain a metal coil, the glass of a fluorescent bulb is full of mercury, a poisonous metal that can be released when the bulb shatters. 

The light that comes from fluorescent lights is not consistent - it's actually a very fast flicker that is imperceptible to the human eye. While studies indicate that the human brain cannot detect this flickering, some people believe that switching to CFLs in their homes has caused headaches and eye strain. 

LED bulbs

Light-emitting diodes, which are generally called LEDs, have been used in electronics for years, and now you can use them to light your home. Whether you realized it or not, you have been looking at LED light for some time, as many recent televisions use LEDs to light their screens and several automobile manufacturers have incorporated LED clusters into their vehicles' headlights. An LED is a tiny semiconductor that can produce an incredibly bright pinpoint of light. In addition to their astonishing brightness, LEDs are very energy efficient and will last up to 25 years. 

Because LED technology is relatively new, it still presents several downsides that could discourage potential buyers. There are significant differences between the quality of light provided by different brands, and this is because LED technology for home lighting requires more engineering than other bulb types. LEDs produce directional light like a flashlight, and this means that manufacturers must create a bulb that simulates that omnidirectional light provided by other bulbs. The other issue is heat. While LEDs are not as hot as incandescent bulbs, prolonged exposure to high temperatures dramatically shortens the life of LEDs. To diminish this problem and maintain a bulb's lifespan, manufacturers design heat sinks that cool their bulbs down. This is a costly engineering endeavor, and LED bulbs are by far the most expensive lighting type as a result.