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Ask Adam: Earth Day Lighting Tips and Free LED Bulbs

Ask Adam Real Living header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

I am taking a break from answering real estate questions this week. Instead, I am turning the column over to Adam Segel-Moss, the Green Building Outreach Coordinator for AIRE and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, to talk about LED bulbs and an Earth Day event they are hosting. 

Tomorrow is Earth Day and it’s a good time to reflect on actions that can be taken at home to save money and leave a lighter footprint. There are many actions we can take in our lives to reduce our environmental impacts, but changing a light is one of the easiest (insert joke here about how many Arlingtonians it takes to change a light). This article provides some info from the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) program and includes details about how to get a FREE LED bulb.

Lights in your home accounts for ~10% of your overall energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Lighting has come a long way. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that were first released in the 1980s were $40 bucks each, had small amounts of mercury, did not work well with dimmer switches, and they didn’t always deliver on their promised lifespan.

Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have followed a similar path of high costs; but the light quality, color, instant-on, and dimmer capabilities have leapfrogged incandescent and CFL technologies.  LED lights are still expensive, but the price has come down considerably over the last few years and the energy savings and life of the bulb make them worth the investment.

Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the many lighting options on the market today so you can choose the LED bulbs that are right for you.

LED 1Use Lumens, Not Watts

I am very familiar with lighting technology, but even I can get a bit overwhelmed when I walk into the lighting aisle at a big box builder store. We used to have a general sense of how bright a bulb was based on the bulb wattage.  The Federal Trade Commission recently mandated that all light bulb packages will be standardized with new labels which will make it much easier to buy light bulbs. The main indicator on the light bulb package will be “lumens”, which will replace the current “watts”. So no matter what kind of bulb you are interested in, using lumens as a guide will enable you to compare the brightness level each bulb will deliver.

LED 2Choose the bulb color temperature that you prefer

Over the years I’ve learned that people have very different opinions about light color.  Some like white light and others prefer a warmer yellow glow. The color is now noted on the package as temperature in Kelvin.  Use the graphic below to select the light color that you want.

LED lights come in an array of shapes and sizes

Up until now, LED bulbs have looked fairly wonky.  You can now finds LED bulbs in all shapes and sizes, including the ornamental filament style LED bulbs that are all the rage right now.  The LED bulb pictured here uses only ~6 watts, and it dims beautifully.


You can test out a new LED bulb for FREE.  The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will be at the events below to exchange your old incandescent bulb for a new LED bulb.  One LED per household, while supplies last. We hope to see you!

Wednesday, April 22: Crystal City Power Purge and Shred

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., 1900 Crystal Drive

Saturday, April 25: Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market

8:00 a.m.-noon, 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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