Energy Efficient Light Bulbs 411
Have you bought light bulbs recently? If so, you may have noticed it’s not “business as usual” in the light bulb aisle. Thanks to federal regulations, the old-fashioned incandescent light bulb is being phased out in favor of new, more energy-efficient light bulbs.
This is good news for consumers because manufacturers are now making better bulbs that use less energy, which saves you money on your electricity bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, upgrading 15 incandescent bulbs in your home could save you $50 per year. And, since most of the new bulbs also have longer life spans, you’ll be buying fewer replacements as well as avoiding the nuisance of burned-out bulbs.
Lumens Versus Watts
As more consumers buy energy-efficient bulbs, labels on bulb packages have changed. They show a more accurate measurement of light output called lumens, which is a measure of how much light you are getting from a bulb.
More lumens means it’s a brighter light; fewer lumens means it’s a dimmer light. Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying your new bulbs, think lumens, not watts.
Here are some guidelines for choosing bulbs that are equivalent in light output to the familiar standard incandescent bulbs :
• To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that gives you 1,600 lumens.
• To replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that gives you 1,100 lumens.
• To replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that gives you 800 lumens.
• To replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that gives you 450 lumens.
Light Bulb Options
As a result of the new efficiency standards, we have more bulb options available now. Gone are the days when there was only a choice of incandescent bulbs. Now, there are three different kinds of energy-efficient bulbs to choose from: halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diododes (LEDs). You’ll find all three types on retailer shelves, and all have standard screw bases so they’re easy to install them into your existing sockets.
Halogen incandescent light bulbs are the “new and improved” version of the old incandescent bulb. This type of light bulb is about 30 percent more energy-efficient and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. It emits the familiar warm-toned incandescent light and works perfectly with dimmers and other lighting controls.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are simply curly versions of the long tube fluorescent lights you may already have in your kitchen or garage. This type of light bulb is three to four times more efficient and can last six to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
The light emitting diode (LED) is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies. This type of light bulb is more than five times more energy-efficient and can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. While LEDs are more expensive, they still save money because they last a long time and use a low amount of energy.
In a New Light
These new bulb options, particularly LEDs, are making us think differently about home lighting. For one thing, the rated life of the new bulbs is much longer. Instead of 1,000 hours, which is the typical rated life of standard incandescent bulbs, the rated life of CFLs is typically 9,000 hours while LEDs are rated for 25,000 hours or more.
When you buy and replace such light bulbs, think of them more like appliances – perhaps a coffee maker or toaster – rather than something that will need to be replaced in a few months. You might even want to take these new bulbs with you if you move.
Just as you would invest in an appliance you expect to use for years, buying a light bulb today requires more of an initial investment but yields much greater returns in terms of energy savings and operating life – all without sacrificing the needed light output.
For more information on the new energy-efficient light bulb standards, buying tips and application information, visit www.lumennow.org.