The New World of Light
If you've been shopping for a light bulb lately, you've probably seen the new packaging and labeling required by the federal government beginning this year. And, you've probably been confused or unable to find the exact bulb you're replacing.
Here's why: in 2007, Congress passed a law that created new standards for light bulbs based on the amount of light produced for energy consumed - standards which traditional incandescent bulbs are unable to meet. The law requires all light bulbs to use 30 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The phase-out started with 100-watt bulbs beginning in January 2012 and will end with 40-watt bulbs sold starting in January 2014. In short, the light bulbs you've been buying for decades will no longer be manufactured or sold.
There are many types of incandescent bulbs that are exempt from this law, such as specialty bulbs for appliances, candelabras, globes and 3-way bulbs. Those will still be available as traditional incandescents.
Reading the New Labels
The first thing you may notice when shopping for bulbs is that the terms "watts" is gone. In its place, we are shopping based on "lumens." Lumens measure how much light the bulb produces, how bright it is. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's a dimmer light. What you will not see is any kind of conversion from traditional incandescent watts to lumens, so here is a reference guide to convert what you're replacing to the new lingo:
100W incandescent bulb = about 1600 lumens
75Wincandescent bulb = about 1100 lumens
60W incandescent bulb = about 800 lumens
40W incandescent bulb = about 450 lumens
The label on the front of the package emphasizes the bulb's brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. The new front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the particular type of bulb.
The back of each package of light bulbs now have a "Lighting Facts" label modeled after the "Nutrition Facts" label that is currently on food packages. The Lighting Facts label provides information about:
- energy cost;
- the bulb's life expectancy;
- light appearance (for example, if the bulb provides "warm" or "cool" light);
- wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses); and
- whether the bulb contains mercury.
One of the biggest complaints about CFL bulbs has been the color or quality of the light. If you were used to buying "soft white" incandescent bulbs, for example, you will no longer find that term on the new packaging. In its place is an indication of the temperature of the light, measured in degrees Kelvin (K). While most energy efficient bulbs come in "warm" colors to match the yellowish light of incandescent bulbs, you can also choose "cooler" colors with whiter and bluish hues for reading and task lighting.
For warmer color (formerly soft white) look for 2700–3000K, 3500–4100K gives a bright white light and 5000–6500K is bluer and most like daylight.
For more information, go to www.energysavers.gov/lighting. The site includes Frequently Asked Questions addressing topics such as lighting choices, the new law standards, lumens and mercury.
How to pick which Light Bulb to use~Lighting and the New Light Bulbs choices
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Dawn Barrier at HOMESMART ENCORE Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
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