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New light bulb regulations could create long-term savings

Posted January 5, 2012
Updated January 9, 2012

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— Standard light bulbs are undergoing some big changes.

Because of government regulations that took effect Jan. 1, more efficient bulbs will be making their way into millions of homes across the country. 

Gone are the 100-watt incandescent bulbs everyone has become so familiar with. They are no longer being produced in the United States. Within the next two years, 75-watt and 60-watt models will be phased out too. 

The changes have sent people rushing for the greener options, LED and CFL bulbs. So, Consumer Reports tested dozens of different LED and CFL models to see which ones provide the best light for the best price. 

According to Consumer Reports expert Celia Lehman, understanding what to look for in LED and CFL bulbs is the key to making the right choice. All of the models will save money, but different models do it in different ways. 

LEDs last the longest, but they are also the more expensive option to replace incandescent bulbs. CFLs don't last quite as long as LEDs, but they are still a more efficient option and can use up to 70 percent less power. 

Another thing to consider when buying bulbs is how they are packaged. The wording has changed, making the standard wattage ratings a thing of the past. 

CFL light bulb Efficient bulbs taking over as incandescents go dark

"What you really need to start doing is looking at lumens," Lehman said. "Lumens will measure the brightness." 

Eight hundred lumens is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Another thing to check is the color temperature, which will be listed in kelvins. The higher the kelvin rating, the bluer the light. 

"If you're looking for general illumination, you're really looking for about 2,800 kelvin," Lehman said. 

LEDs are still expensive, with some costing up to $25, but according to Consumer Reports, the price is worth it in the long run. LEDs can last up to a decade and will save the consumer hundreds of dollars. 

CFLs can save $100 or more over the lifetime of the bulb. 

"All of the bulbs at the store are going to be more efficient, which is a really good thing," Lehman said. 

For folks still looking for a 100-watt equivalent, Consumer Reports recommends the ECObulb Plus from Feit Electric. It will cost about $2 per bulb. 

For even less, the Utilitech Soft White from Lowe's and the EcoSmart Soft White from Home Depot are the best options.

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  • fayncmike Jan 11, 2012

    "Won't be long and they will be controlling our thermostats. Think that's a joke? Not. Read something other than corporate-owned news media...
    pmck"

    Mercury thermostats have been banned for years. I think mercury thermometers are also banned but not sure about that.

  • redrubberball1 Jan 10, 2012

    I've been using CFL's for 16 years and have not had one to fail, yet.

  • ohmygosh Jan 10, 2012

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/16/congress-overturns-incandescent-light-bulb-ban/

    The bulb ban has been overturned and signed into law in a rare act of congressional bipartisanship.

    So why are we having this discussion. Is the author unaware of the above?

  • 23tony Jan 9, 2012

    "-I still say there is no mention of Light Bulbs in our Constitution

    You are right, and there is no mention of marriage either however the government chooses to control that too."

    Two wrongs make a right, then?

  • WooHoo2You Jan 9, 2012

    Won't be long and they will be controlling our thermostats. Think that's a joke? Not. Read something other than corporate-owned news media...-pmck

    Well they have been regulating household products for energy efficiency since Reagan however people act like this is somehow brand new.

  • pmck Jan 9, 2012

    Won't be long and they will be controlling our thermostats. Think that's a joke? Not. Read something other than corporate-owned news media...

  • pmck Jan 9, 2012

    Hm. Which corporation owns the CFL patents/companies? Isn't is convenient that they own several politicians? Isn't it convienent that they pay no taxes? Just what we need - regulations on light bulbs. Bet Thomas Jefferson is screaming "I TOLD YOU SO!" from whereever he is (looking down on us with shame).

  • original intent Jan 9, 2012

    As long as the FEDS/GOVT workers keep driving Crown Vics-Chargers & Tahoes..I will keep burning Tom Edison's invention...IF I have to build them myself:)

  • WooHoo2You Jan 9, 2012

    I keep hearing that CFL's have small amounts of mercury like it's not a big deal. But multiply that by the millions of light bulbs that will hit land fills and wow, that's a lot of mercury where before there was none.- Offshore

    So all those NON-compact huge tubed florescent bulbs we have used for countless years have not been going to the landfills?

  • Offshore Jan 9, 2012

    mep> is right.

    I keep hearing that CFL's have small amounts of mercury like it's not a big deal. But multiply that by the millions of light bulbs that will hit land fills and wow, that's a lot of mercury where before there was none. I can't believe that incandescents can't be made more efficient. Of course, they don't have lobbyists pushing or paying to have their agendas put up front. What? Me accuse gov't officials of corruption? Never?

    Sounds like big gov't is at it again. They're watching you...

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