Seattle Living

The ABCs of LEDs

How to get the best from this long-lasting, energy-efficient light source.

By Lauren Mang October 18, 2016


This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

There are more than a few reasons to get better acquainted with the mighty light-emitting diode (LED). According to Energy Saver, a consumer resource offered by the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than their incandescent bulb counterparts. And as more lighting manufacturers unveil affordable LED bulbs with brightness (measured in lumens rather than energy-output-measuring watts) that stacks up to the illumination from an incandescent, it’s a prime time to make the swap.

“The quality of light has evolved,” says Carrie Hayden, creative director of the Hayden Collective on Capitol Hill. “There are warmer, more natural-looking options on the market. It’s just a matter of knowing what you are comfortable with and testing different brands to find the right option.

To maintain a certain level of warmth in a room, Hayden recommends using both LED and incandescent bulbs with LEDs in recessed lights overhead, and incandescent bulbs in table lamps. Note that LEDs are considered directional light sources, so their glow tends to be more focused than that of an incandescent fluorescent. If you’re using an LED in a table lamp, opt to put that lamp in a room that “gets a fair amount of natural light,” suggests Hayden.

While price has been a sticking point for some—LED bulbs used to cost as much as $25 a pop—competition and technological advances have led to significantly cheaper offerings. Consumer Reports recently noted that two 60-watt LED bulbs, while still priced higher than traditional light bulbs at $7 and $4 each, are much more appealing to the eco-friendly and cost-conscious. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, LEDs are projected to increase in efficiency to produce more than 150 lumens per watt by the year 2020, while cost continues to decline. 

How to choose a color: The Kelvin scale is used to measure the color temperature for any given light bulb. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program (, if you’re looking for a cool, white light, search for LED bulbs listed in the 3500K–4000K range. Want to mimic the warm glow of an incandescent? Go with an LED that’s between 2700K and 3000K.

Follow Us

A Light-Filled  Oasis

A Light-Filled Oasis

Mercer Island residence embraces natural beauty by drawing it inside

When Kent and Lisa Sacia decided to put a bow on their latest remodeling triumph, they turned to a trusted collaborator, Sander Groves Landscaping President Dan Groves. He was more than happy to take on the project, a reimagining of a 1972 Northwest contemporary by a noted Mercer Island architect. “I am in a position to…

Living: The Lightness of Seeing

Living: The Lightness of Seeing

Challenging ‘Lopez Lookout’ project places a premium on spectacular scenery

The regulators and nesting eagles weren’t the only ones peering on with interest. The third largest of the San Juan Islands at 30 square miles, Lopez is home to about 3,000 year-round residents known for friendly waves at about anything that moves. Islanders are also known for their intense interest in protecting their remarkable environment….

A History Museum at Home | Sponsored

A History Museum at Home | Sponsored

Creating your own mini galleries with art, photos, and objects you love

  Everywhere you turn in Brendan’s home is a piece of history with a compelling story. A small delicate piece of metal stamped with a man and lion sits inset against a vibrant red matboard. “This is a gladiator fight ticket from the Colosseum in Thracian during the slave uprising in Rome. The time of…

A Poetic Quality of Light

A Poetic Quality of Light

Portage Bay floating home embodies a feeling of spaciousness

Suzanne Stefan rides a housing bubble that bursts many times each day. Stefan, a cofounder of Seattle architecture firm Studio DIAA, combined light, sound, and materials to create a bright, 650-square-foot floating home on Portage Bay (the eastern arm of Lake Union) that reverentially reflects its idyllic surroundings. Bright, but not dazzling, as glare, contrast,…