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LED street lights spark anger in Rome

Residents believe 'harsh' LED lighting is ruining the city's ambience

In an attempt to save millions of pounds on energy bills, Rome city council is replacing old sodium street lamps with LED lights. But the residents of Rome are concerned that the city’s romantic glow is being ruined.

The city’s new look is being compared by some disgruntled locals to that of a ‘morgue’ or ‘the frozen-food aisle of your local supermarket’, with its harsh white glare.

Light that is too blue-white or harsh can be an issue with some LED bulbs, particularly brighter ones. But if you choose wisely, it’s possible to find LED bulbs that recreate the soft yellow glow of traditional bulbs, saving you money without sacrificing aesthetics and atmosphere.

See which we think are the best LED light bulbs to help you save money, including bright 100W-replacement bulbs.

LED lights don’t have to be cold

Using LED lighting need not mean putting up with unappealing cold light. Some LED lights do give off a more blue light, but there are others that will have a warmer feel. The best LEDs we’ve tested will, in fact, be almost indistinguishable from your old incandescent bulbs.

The type of light a bulb gives off is is known as its colour temperature, measured in Kelvins. This is a measure of how warm (yellow) or cold (white/blue) the light is, and this number is displayed on light-bulb packaging. A nice warm yellow light is about 2,700 on the Kelvin scale, while a brighter blue light will be upwards of 8,000K.

For the perfect ambience at home, it’s also worth looking at a bulb’s colour rendering index (CRI). The higher it is out of 100, the more accurately the bulb will represent colours in your home. An LED with a poor CRI score may make colours look washed out, or bring out a particular hue – such as red or purple – at the expense of others. Most LEDs hover around the 80 mark, but our testing has uncovered some with CRIs in the 90s.

It’s a good idea to trial one light bulb first to make sure you’re getting the right colour temperature for your home. It can be trickier to ensure a harmonious and consistent lighting set up with LEDs, as light quality can vary between different LED brands. You might want to stick to one brand or type, once you’ve decided.

Before you head out to the shops, arm yourself with our five tips for choosing the right light bulb.

Save money with LED bulbs

The push for LED lighting on Rome’s streets is aimed at reducing the city’s energy bills and committing to a more efficient source of light – also good reasons to buy LED light bulbs for your home.

Don’t be put off by the higher up-front cost of LED light bulbs. Because they’re so long-lasting, they end up being the most cost-efficient option. Most LEDs should last you up to 25 years, compared with less than two years for a halogen bulb.

We’ve estimated that the average annual running cost of a LED bulb is £1.71, while you’d be paying out about £8.42 a year for a halogen bulb (based on what a typical 700+ lumen bulb might cost you per year if you have it on for around three hours a day). That can really add up if you switch multiple bulbs to LED.

For the full low-down on LEDs, read our guide to LED light bulbs explained.

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