Free light bulbs from Mass Save

I received a bunch of free CFL and LED bulbs from MassSave as a blogger. I was very clear that I was going to say what I wanted, not necessarily nice things. I held up my end of the bargain, as you’ll see below.

Update, 12/13/2014: Two important notes about this post. 1. It is old enough that some of these bulbs are no longer in production, let alone used by MassSave anymore. 2. This is, to me, the least interesting post on this website. Hopefully you’ll take a few moments to read other, more interesting posts on this website. Thanks!

MassSave is a great program which offers “free” energy audits to MA residents and

CFL samples Mass Save sent.

Some of the CFL samples Mass Save sent.

commercial property owners. Non-profit entities are not eligible for most services. (“Free” is in quotes because the funding comes from all of our energy bills, so we have, in fact, paid for the service. That’s fine and good in my book.)

If you haven’t had a free audit, go sign up for one, now. Go, I’ll wait. Done? Good. (If your last audit was four years ago, do it again. They’ve improved dramatically.)

Some of the sample bulbs Mass Save sent.

Some of the sample LED bulbs Mass Save sent.

They’ll look at your home, hopefully use a blower door (as HEET does) to find leaks and measure how much energy you’re losing, and tell you what you can do to save energy through air sealing, insulation, water and electricity conservation. They’ll do some amount of work for free, provide significant rebates for other work, and give you free energy saving light bulbs.

Good people – replace your bulbs. If you can do it for free, even better. Do NOT wait until your incandescent bulbs blow, this just wastes money. Throw away the old incandescent bulbs.

You probably already know that according to Consumer Reports and a gazillion other sources “It usually takes less than a year to recoup the cost of most CFLs….” It takes even less time to recoup the cost if they’re free.

Or, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, “About 10 percent of the energy your home uses going to lighting costs. Replacing 15 traditional [incandescent] light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs will save you $50 a year and more than $600 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.” Imagine if those 15 bulbs came to you free from a Mass Save audit. (You signed up above already, right?)

The bulbs provided during the audit (assuming they match what I was given) are good,

Greenlite 8 watt LED

Greenlite 8 watt LED

some are even great. My favorites were, no surprise, the LEDs. In particular the Greenlite 8 watt dimmable LED has stood out as I’ve played with these over the past few months. I’ve used it in recessed cans, desk lights, etc. and the light it produces is great.

The most frequent complaint about CFL and LED bulbs is that the light they provide is ugly. Accustomed to cheap incandescent bulbs, people buy the least expensive CFL they can find, discover it gives terrible light in their kitchen, and swear them all off entirely. That is also in part because they didn’t use the correct color bulb for the lighting situation.


First off, all the CFL bulbs MassSave sent me were Energy Star rated. Why is that important? In order to gain the Energy Star label they have to meet strict quality standards. (LED bulbs do not have Energy Star ratings yet.)

If a CFL bulb isn’t Energy Star rated, then even though they might be in the color range of incandescent bulbs (around 2700 Kelvin), their Color Rendering Index may or may not be terrible. They might last a long time, or they might fizzle quickly. They may get bright right away or they might take five minutes to warm up. Without the Energy Star label you just don’t know.

 About the bulbs

Some of the bulbs they sent me are not great, but most were fine to excellent.

Be honest: Can you tell the color difference?

Be honest: Can you tell the color difference? (A CFL, a LED and an incandescent screw into a fixture….)

The bulbs MassSave sent me all fall in the 2700K range (“warm” bulbs), a color appropriate for a bathroom vanity or dining table fixture. Use that same CFL or 2700K incandescent on your work bench and you’re likely to find it annoying. That’s not the fault of the bulb, that’s because it’s the wrong bulb for the job.

Remember, the higher the Kelvin rating, the “cooler” the color. Get a 5000K bulb for your living room and watch your walls turn blue, if that’s what you like. I don’t, but I do like high K bulbs in my work areas, including my kitchen counter.

So have MassSave do an audit of your home, get your free bulbs, but make sure all the CFLs are Energy Star rated. In a few days, if you decide some are too yellow or too dim for that specific location, use the money you’re about to save on your energy bill from the bulbs they did give you to buy bulbs with the correct color temperature, preferably an LED.

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9 Responses to Free light bulbs from Mass Save

  1. Todd S says:

    Last year, after moving into our house in Arlington — we had a MASSAVE audit. It was a bit disappointing — no blower door test, and thus the air sealing wasn’t too revealing. Not having the blower door test decreased the usefulness. Have things changed in the past year?

  2. Jeremy says:

    Todd, you’re eligible for one audit per year. That said, they’re still not using blower doors as a matter of course. If you think you have a lot of leaks (do you?) and they found a lot of them, then they should have, in my opinion, offered to do one.

    As the program grows, and with it the vendors who perform the audits, the quality can vary from auditor to auditor. This is, of course, despite best efforts.

  3. vps says:

    Your blog is very interesting. You write about very interesting things. Thanks for all your tips and information.

  4. Jeremy says:

    One bulb I didn’t write about above, the Greenlite 13w PAR30 LED, has been in use for a few months now. Unfortunately it recently started blinking the rapid blink of death. That is simply unacceptable, especially for such an expensive bulb.

  5. Cathy smith says:

    Suppose to get two free bulbs

  6. Alfred Leonard says:

    Can you send me some LED bulbs have phosphorescent which contain mercury and are not as efficient.
    I need perhaps 10 regular size 60 watt LED and then 7 of the very small candel type ASAP
    please call me at (redacted)
    Alfred G. Leonard

    Do not send me phosphorescent only LED.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I do not supply bulbs. As you can see above, some bulbs were sent to me for review. You might consider having a free energy audit by MassSave, and they will provide you with bulbs that should meet your needs.

    This review was written long ago enough that the bulbs I reviewed may not even be produced anymore. Good luck!

  8. Sue says:

    Mass Save installed light fixtures that have these wierd led light bulbs with 2 prongs on tha bottom which cannot be found anywhere. I never would of had them install such a thingif I was aware of this. On top of that 2 of the bulbs have yellowed after 4 months. Be careful of what they are installing in your home with their programs. This was a multi unit residential program where they i stalled new fixtures with the led and cfl bulbs.

  9. Mc says:

    I find the bulbs they installed for me to be on low quality side! When installed on a dimmer circuit, they flickered to the point of almost a strobe light.Very annoying!I had to remove them and get LEDs from Home Depot that worked MUCH better. I also asked the Rep. if I could have the some bulbs with the higher Kelvin rating,(I believe the light balance from those bulbs kind of removes those “winter blues”).The Rep.told me he does not offer those because “they are not popular”.There was no offer rebate on a new washing machine or dryer,which I was hoping for.Also,one last small detail.I do not wear shoes throughout my house and before,on the phone, I told the girl setting up the appointment that,she said,not a problem the Rep. will have booties to slip over his shoes.When he got to my house he said he was all out of the booties and the office never mentioned it to him.EXACTLY the same thing when I had a audit years ago.Just saying.

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