There are plenty of ways to boost a home's value before you put it on the market. Roof repairs, a new coat of paint, a kitchen or bathroom face lift, or even a new load of mulch spread through the gardens can drive up interest and offers.
But what if you could also entice a prospective buyer with 10% off his or her electricity bills?
The average monthly electricity bill in the USA in 2013 was over $100, and lighting represents 10 to 14% of that bill. If a house were full of incandescent bulbs and you replaced them all with LED bulbs, you could slash the lighting bill by around 80%, saving 8-11% on the overall electricity bill.
That's a value of $120+ each year in the average American home, and obviously it goes up with larger homes. One source says that the average home has 47 light bulbs, and with Lighting Supply, replacing those bulbs with quality LEDs could be done for under $400.
Let's talk about the best approach.
Keeping It Simple
We go into details you may find helpful below, but if you're just looking for great deals on the bulbs commonly used in a home (A19, BR30, and chandelier style bulbs), you can visit our page on LEDs for the home. We've already done the work of choosing the most popular color temperature, quality brands, and our best-priced bulbs.
A Note on Name Brands
Let's start with brands and costs. As with almost anything, it is possible to buy low-end LEDs to save some money up front. But also as with almost anything, that lowball purchase may burn you in the end. These bulbs may use cheap drivers that die in a few years (so the bulb no longer works), undermining the claim of 20+ years for an LED. And even bulbs that are supposed to be the same may look different when running. The last thing you need when showing a home is for bulbs to call attention to themselves with different colors.
This is why we've chosen to carry known brands like TCP, Philips, and GE, where quality and consistency matter to the reputation of the brand. And on our "LEDs for the Home" page, we've selected bulbs that compete on price with many of the unknown brands.
Although people's preferences vary, most of us are used to having incandescent bulbs throughout the house, which glow at a warm "2700K" or 2700 Kelvin. Halogen bulbs glow a little whiter at between 2700K and 3000K. These temperatures are known as warm white or soft white on many boxes, but new light bulb packages will also give you the Kelvin temperature.
LED lights come in a variety of color temperatures, but most popularly in warm / soft white (around 2700K) and daylight (around 5000K). The latter are very white, even slightly blue; some people like this, but most will want the warmer colors, so we recommend sticking with 2700K in most instances.
Optionally, you can look to slightly whiter colors (3000K to 3500K) for areas that require more utility, like kitchens, laundry rooms, or garages.
A note from experience, though: even 2700K LEDs seem to run a little whiter than incandescent bulbs. And while incandescents increasingly turn orange when dimming, LEDs may retain their initial color when dimmed.
On that note, you may want to know about LEDs and dimming. The fact is, most LEDs can dim, but make sure they say so on the packaging. It is possible to save some money by purchasing non-dimmable LEDs if you know they'll be used in non-dimming applications. But if they do dim, you'll need a compatible dimmer. Many modern dimmers will work, and even some old ones do. But you'll need to test them after installing your LEDs, then replace the dimmer as necessary. This isn't expensive, and it's worth it for the value of LEDs.
Name brand LEDs will generally provide you with a list of tested dimmers so you know what you can rely on.
CRI and Why It Matters
CRI refers to the Color Rendering Index, a scale of 0-100 that shows how well a bulb renders the colors of an object. Most LEDs score in the lower 80s, which is considered very good for color rendering. Anything in the 90s is excellent. This is why we're excited to showcase the TCP BR30 light shown here with a 95 CRI and a fantastic price under $10.
CRI, however, is not the full story around how someone experiences the light from a bulb. The overall spectral distribution shows where a bulb excels in displaying certain colors, and the CFL bulbs that many people were unhappy with tended to have a much more "spiky" distribution than LEDs, which tend to have a smoother curve, or a smoother rendering of all colors. You'll note in this example that an incandescent may better display reds while an LED may better display blues and greens.
Of course the spectrum below will vary from bulb to bulb, and a high CRI LED bulb may boast an even more impressive curve than the one shown below for LED.
LED Downlight Kits
When replacing bulbs in recessed cans, you can choose LED bulbs like the TCP BR30 shown above, or you can choose LED downlight kits for a sleek, modern look. (Make sure to choose the right size kit for your recessed cans.)
These kits are almost as easy to install as light bulbs with a corded base that twists into a standard socket. After removing the original trim, screw in the new fixture's base and then slide the fixture into the can. This provides you with a lighted lens and trim all in one without the gap into the ceiling that you can normally see around a bulb.
LED downlight kits are certainly more expensive than replacement bulbs, but in premium homes or special areas of a home, they may be worth the additional cost to create a beautiful new look.
We hope this overview helps you to see how easy to increase the value in your home with simple changes to lighting. Even if you're not selling a home right now, the switch to LEDs can pay for itself within a couple years and then become money in your pocket going forward, with LEDs (at 3 hours of use per day) expected to last 20+ years.