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The Right Way to Spend Up to $60 on a Light Bulb

And LEDs certainly don't come cheap.

Although entry-level prices have dropped to around $25 a bulb from about $40 a year ago, a comparable CFL costs only around $2 -- and a similar incandescent bulb will set you back just 25 cents.

But Consumer Reports estimates buyers will save around $130 in electricity and replacement costs over a LED's roughly 23-year lifespan if they use one in place of a traditional incandescent bulb.

"We hear people say all of the time: 'Why should I buy [an LED bulb]? It's so expensive,'" Lehrman says. "Our answer is: that an incandescent bulb is really only cheap if you never turn it on."

That said, Consumer Reports doesn't recommend replacing CFLs with LEDs, as you'll pay a lot more per bulb and get only minimal additional savings.

Lehrman also suggests using LEDs only in hard-to-reach places, since a bulb will last there for years, or in light fixtures you use around three hours or more per day in your home.

"Obviously, the places to put these high-efficiency bulbs are places where you have the lights on for the longest time, because you'll recoup [LEDs' higher prices] more quickly," she says.

Here are some other tips from Lehrman on how to get the most spark out of LED lights:

Look for rebates
Utilities, lighting manufacturers and government agencies sometimes offer rebates on LEDs to take some of the sting out of the bulbs' high prices.

Lehrman recommends checking the websites of bulb makers and local utilities as well as looking at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Save your receipts for warranty purposes
Any LED that carries a U.S. government EnergyStar rating for efficiency must include at least a three-year warranty, and some manufacturers warrant their bulbs for as much as a decade.

Lehrman recommends you keep your receipt and the box your LED came in so you have it available in case the bulb suffers a premature death.

An even better idea: Take photos of the receipt and the box's UPC code with a smartphone, then store them on your phone or download them to your computer for easy retrieval.
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