New light bulb regulations could create long-term savings
Posted January 5, 2012
Updated January 9, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
"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.