The temperatures are falling and your air conditioner has retired for the year, and now you’re thinking about replacing old incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LED lamps. Good for you! But hold on a minute—will your heating bill increase if you switch to LEDs, which don’t give off excess heat?

If your home is heated with a gas furnace, using incandescent bulbs as a heat source isn’t the ideal solution. Electric heat is generally more expensive than gas heat, so in the long run, incandescent bulbs will cost more to heat your home.

Electric heat is also less efficient than gas. Before it gets to your house, electricity is often created by natural gas. While incandescent bulbs convert a large fraction of their energy to heat, the production of electricity from natural gas is an inefficient process. Of the total energy in coal, only about a third is converted to electricity. From there, additional energy is lost in transmission and distribution before the electricity even reaches the socket in your home! On the other hand, bringing the gas to your home takes away the unnecessary steps.

How do your toasty incandescent bulbs look now?

Furthermore, heat produced by incandescent bulbs typically heat areas that are not useful, like the center of the ceiling in a room. When’s the last time you hung out on the ceiling? (Unless you’re a bat, of course.) This heat also doesn’t reach an automatic thermostat, and consequently would likely not affect it.

If you’re still concerned about the heating bill, you’ll definitely reduce your electric bill by switching to LEDs! I, Dr. Bulb, believe incandescent bulbs offer few benefits—and keeping your house warm in the winter does not redeem them.

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