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This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.

Don’t cook in the dark

How to create the ideal lighting for your kitchen using LED bulbs

It’s the heart and the soul of the house. It’s where we cook and eat, of course, but it’s also where we entertain guests, work on our laptops, talk or text on the phone, or just sit and gab while waiting for the water to boil, the coffee to brew, or the bagel to toast. As Paul McCartney sings in “Cook of the House,” “No matter where I serve my guests, they seem to like the kitchen best.”

Because the kitchen is used for so many different purposes, the lighting has to meet a range of needs in a variety of locations, from the stove to the counters to an island to the cabinets. The right combination of lights makes a kitchen glow, and it can add warmth and style to the design—which is important, considering how much time we spend there.

Because kitchen lighting is both essential and tricky, ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights make the most sense for all of a kitchen’s lighting needs. Why? The bulbs are tested in three distinct categories: performance (for example, does it cast shadows?); reliability (is it buzzing or flickering, or not lasting as long as it should?); and energy efficiency (with the energy used by one incandescent bulb, you can turn on six LED bulbs). Plus, LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, which is great for all the lights in your kitchen in those awkward to reach locations.

So take your time when lighting your kitchen. Use the space first. Understand where you’ll chop most of your vegetables, where you’ll serve meals, where the coffee machine will go, and where you’ll be reading the snail mail or the emails on your phone — everyday tasks that you take for granted. Now that you know your space, you’re ready to install the right LED bulbs for each task.

General Purpose Lighting

Recessed lights or ceiling fixtures provide the light from above into your kitchen, brightening the entire room. And because they are on so frequently, the right choice can go a long way with saving money on that energy bill.

When replacing the bulbs in your ceiling lights, make sure you use bulbs that are bright enough to light up your kitchen. LED lights are available in a variety of brightness options. Having grown up with incandescent bulbs, we’re accustomed to thinking of brightness in terms of “watts.” But watts are actually the measure of energy use. The true measure of brightness is “lumens.” For example, a 1,600-lumen LED bulb produces the brightness of a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

If you have fixtures where the bulb is exposed, one newer option to keep in mind is filament-style LEDs. They provide a look we’re familiar with because of how closely they resemble  incandescent bulbs, especially since they often have an all-glass design without the solid plastic base that other LEDs have. While they may look like incandescent bulbs, you still get the benefits of LEDs. An incandescent bulb might last 1,000 hours and use 60 watts, while an equivalent filament-style LED will last 15,000 hours and use only 7 watts of energy.

“LED manufacturers are really trying to mimic the incandescent bulb, and they’re getting better and better at it,” says Joyce Gravel, store manager at Wolfers Lighting in Waltham.

Task Lighting

Once you’ve settled on the main kitchen lighting, think about how you maneuver in the kitchen, because where LED bulbs really shine is in task lighting. The many different shapes and styles of LED lighting allow you to identify the perfect solution for under-cabinet lighting that won’t cramp your work space, or for a pendant light hanging over an island. Lighting strips that look like a rope of small LED lights are especially perfect for brightening tucked away dark spaces.

Carefully placed task lighting makes it easy to read recipes, dice your cucumbers, and see whether the steak in your frying pan is browning well (and, when you cut it open, tell whether it’s medium-well or medium-rare). When it’s mounted under the cabinet, LED lighting provides bright, focused light for tasks done on the countertop. LED lights also stay much cooler than incandescent or halogen lights; in fact, they generate up to 90 percent less heat. If you keep fruit or other food on the counter with lighting close above it, using LED lighting can even help food last longer by not producing heat that causes food to spoil faster.

“The wonderful thing about LED under cabinet lighting is that it’s very much set-it-and-forget-it,” says Lucy Dearborn, owner of Lucia Lighting & Design in Lynn. “It’s amazing how long LED lights last, which is nice, because under cabinet lights are a pain to change.”

You can also use LED accent lights to add stylish ambiance inside glass-front cabinets to show off your china, in the kick space beneath cabinets, and on shelves.

Decorative Lighting

Attractive light fixtures such as pendant lights mounted over a table or island add style and functional light to the kitchen. Because they hang down from the ceiling, pendants bring light closer to a table or island where families tend to eat their meals, do homework, or socialize. And because they are decorative, pendants add an attractive finishing touch to the kitchen.

For pendant lights, choose integrated LED fixtures, or replace incandescent light bulbs in existing fixtures with LED bulbs. And of course, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label on the package.

But for now, just go check on that steak.

Save even more with ENERGY STAR certified LEDs.

Eversource supports price discounts on ENERGY STAR certified LED lighting online and in stores throughout Massachusetts through the Mass Save program.

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.