Shedding Light on Your Bulb Choices Picking a light bulb isn't exactly rocket science. You want it to provide the amount of light you need, to last a long time -- particularly if it's for a hard-to-reach place -- and not to "break the bank." You want it to be energy efficient as well. The fact is, new energy-efficient light bulbs can save money on your electric bill, while saving energy, too.
What's the catch? Highly efficient compact fluorescent bulbs cost more than regular incandescent bulbs. However, their efficient use of electricity and long operating life can offset the initial pinch of the purchase price.
Watts to Know
The Federal Trade Commission's Appliance Labeling Rule requires light bulb manufacturers to provide information on packages to help consumers choose the most energy-efficient bulbs for their needs. The Rule applies to all household light bulbs except small, screw-base bulbs like night lights and chandelier bulbs.
The packages for standard bulbs -- including halogen, reflector bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs -- must give information about:
light output -- how much light the bulb produces, measured in lumens. A 60-watt regular incandescent bulb yields about 855 lumens. A 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb yields about 900 lumens.
energy usage -- the total electrical power a bulb uses, measured in watts.
design voltage -- if the bulb is not 120 volts. Most bulbs run on 120 volts. Light output and efficiency decrease when you use a bulb with a 125 or 130 design voltage in a region that provides electrical service at 120 volts.
average life in hours -- how long you can expect the bulb to last.
number of light bulbs in the package.
For More Information The Federal Trade Commission offers a wide range of business and consumer education information online at ftc.gov. This information also is available from the toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) (TDD: 1-866-653-4261).
Your state and local energy offices and local utility company also may be valuable sources of information.