The ABCs of CFLs and LEDs

Photo Credit: AP Image

Energy prices are down this winter, but that won't last.

That's why it's a good idea to become more energy efficient now.

That way when prices go up, you'll be ready to save money.

One way to do that is to use Compact Florescent light bulbs, or CFLs.

Ameren is making easy and cheap for you to get that done.

KHQA found out more about the Act on Energy program.

You know they can save you money.

"Just one CFL bulb will save you five dollars a year on your electric bill. If you want to save 50 bucks, put in ten. $100 sound better to you? Put in 20," says Leigh Morris with Ameren.

And you know they cost more than a regular light bulb. They've gotten cheaper, and now the Ameren utility companies in Illinois are helping with that cost. You can log onto act on energy dot com, click on the Get Discounts on CFL Bulbs link, and find ways to save money on CFLs. Ameren has partnered with several retailers including Home Depot, Sams Club, CVS, and Best Buy to lower the cost of CFLs. So far one point two million CFL have been bought through the discount program. It may seem odd to you that an electric company is helping you buy light bulbs that use less energy. But Leigh Morris with Ameren says, to him and the company, it makes perfect sense.

"The less electricity is used, the less demand is on the system. The less need there is to expand the system, the less need there is to fix it now. We can put it off until later," says Morris.

The website shows you the discounted prices of the bulbs at the store of your choice. Then you can go to that store and buy the bulbs at the cheaper price like you see here. Another thing you may here about CFLs is that they are dangerous if they break. Morris says that's something you should not worry about.

"The big thing is don't use a vacuum cleaner to clean it up. Use a broom. The reason is your vacuum has as exhaust and some of that fine powder will get through the bag and get blown into the room," says Morris.

Morris says that's still not likely to cause any harm.

You can also get CFLs in a variety of colors, like you see here.

Companies also make "bug" lights you can put outside to keep pests away in a CFL.

You can even buy CFLs that can be used on a dimmer switch.

Another plus to a CFL, because they use less electricity, you can use more watts in your fixtures.

In other words, if your lamp says it can only handle up to 60 watts, you can get a 30 to 40 watt CFL that puts out as much light as a 150 watt light bulb.

So, essentially, you get more light for less money.

The next generation of energy efficient lighting is called LED.

While the price of LED bulbs is getting cheaper, right now they won't give you the return on your dollar like a CFL, except for when it comes to holiday lights.

You've probably seen a big push of LED holiday lights on store shelves this year.

While they are more expensive than traditional holiday lights, they last 75 to 80 percent longer, and use a fraction of the electricity.

"The only thing you want to make certain is that the lights carry that label that says Energy Star qualified. That assures you those light string have been thoroughly tested. They have a three year warranty. And they were weather tested," says Leigh Morris.

By the way, we mentioned that website

If you don't have access to the internet, you can call the customer service number on your utility bill, and a customer service representative can help you find cheaper CFL bulbs.