Which Light Bulb Do I Choose?

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Traditional incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light and are no longer manufactured according to the new lighting standards, which phased in from 2012-2014. The bipartisan Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) established these efficiency standards.

90% of the energy traditional incandescent bulbs produce is given off as heat, not light. Newer energy-saving light bulbs provide the choices in colors and light levels consumers want yet provide energy efficiency while saving consumers money.

However, consumers have so many choices today. The row of light bulbs varying in wattage, color, size, shape and type can be compared to the cereal aisle in the grocery store! Use these tips when you shop for light bulbs next time.

First look for the ENERGY STAR label. It means that the bulb you’re selecting is certified to save energy. ENERGY STAR bulbs are available in all shapes and sizes, and some are even dimmable.

Next, ask yourself, where is this light bulb going? A table or floor lamp? A ceiling fixture? The box will tell you where the bulb can be safely used.

Then, look for lumens on the Lighting Facts Label. Since you are buying an energy-efficient bulb, you have to look for lumens rather than watts to discover how bright your bulb will be. Watts indicate energy consumed and lumens indicate light output. An ENERGY STAR bulb will consume fewer watts and still provide the same level of brightness. Like the helpful nutrition label on food products, the Lighting Facts label helps consumers understand what they are really purchasing. The label clearly provides the lumens — or brightness — of the bulb, the estimated operating cost for the year, and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue).

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely. Follow these guidelines when purchasing: To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens. Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens. Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens. Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens..

You’re almost there, but first you have to pick your color. Energy-efficient bulbs now come in a range of colors. The light appearance (color) is displayed on the Lighting Facts Label as a number on the Kelvin (K) scale. Warm or lower K means the light will have more yellow/orange hue. A warm white, about 2,700 K, is roughly the standard color of an incandescent light bulb. A cooler white light, around 7,000 K, will look more like natural daylight.

If you’ve followed these suggestions hopefully you’ve selected the perfect bulb for your home and you’re ready to save energy. Now you have to fork over the cash, but if you think your perfect bulb is too expensive, think again! The operating cost of an ENERGY STAR CFL is roughly $1.20 a year and an ENERGY STAR LED is $1.00—much less than the $4.80 per year that it costs to run a 60W traditional incandescent. AND your energy-efficient bulb will last 3%-25% longer! Wise consumers will gradually replace old incandescent bulbs with new energy efficient bulbs. Choose the lamps and lighting fixtures that you use most often and start replacing those first to reap the biggest monetary rewards.

Source: energy.gov

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