Focus on Energy: New light bulbs light up the market


Erinn Monroe

Focus on Energy


[email protected]

Wisconsin residents to benefit from Focus on Energy lighting sale

Madison, WI – There are more lighting options now than ever. And for Wisconsin residents this is a good thing. They can now take advantage of energy-efficient lighting that is attractive, fits unique fixtures, and is available at a low price (discounts available while supplies last).

“It’s an exciting time for energy-efficient lighting,” said Linda Mae Schmitt with Focus on Energy. “CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) now come in warm tones, more than seven shapes, can be dimmable, and can work for outdoor lighting. The right lighting choice saves the consumer energy and money.”

New light bulb labels

As of July 19, 2011, consumers may have an easier time comparing light bulbs and deciding which ones are right for them. Under section 321 of Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) re-examined light bulb labels. The FTC announced a final rule in June 2010 that required new labels on light bulb packages by mid-2011. As a result, manufacturers are printing a nutrition-like label on packages to standardize information about light bulbs.

New Lighting Facts label will show:

* Brightness (lumens)
* Estimated annual energy cost
* Bulb’s life expectancy (in years)
* Light appearance (cool/warm)
* Energy used (watts)
* If the bulb contains mercury

“People can use the new labels for an apples-to-apples comparison on light bulbs,” said Schmitt. “You’ll know at-a-glance which bulbs save the most energy and how much they will cost you on your energy bills.”

Lumens vs. watts

As part of the FTC requirements, packages must now display a bulb’s lumens. Lumens are the standard measurement of light output and indicate how bright a light bulb is. Watts refer to how much energy a light bulb uses. Some consumers may be surprised to hear that CFLs provide the same light output as incandescent bulbs (see chart below), but use less energy to do so.

CFLs – Incandescent Equivalent – Light Output

9-11 watts – 40 watts – 450 lumens

13-17 watts – 60 watts – 800 lumens

18-20 watts – 75 watts – 1,100 lumens

23-26 watts – 100 watts (retiring in 2012) – 1,600 lumens

31-42 watts – 150 watts – 2,600 lumens

Incandescent changes

Currently, 90 percent of an incandescent light bulb’s energy use is for heat, not light. As part of EISA, 100-watt incandescent bulbs are being re-engineered to use about 25 percent less energy than they do today. However, CFLs and LEDs will still be customers’ best choices for energy and money savings because they are 75 percent more energy efficient than current incandescent bulbs.

“In the same way that vehicles have become more fuel efficient over time and refrigerator manufacturers have adopted higher standards for energy efficiency, incandescent light bulbs are getting an upgrade,” said Schmitt. “These new standards will help us all use less energy. Plus, ENERGY STAR® qualified CFLs and LEDs already more than meet EISA’s energy-efficiency standards.”

Tips to keep in mind

Pointers for shopping in the light bulb aisle:

* Dimmable/Three-ways—If you’re replacing a light bulb for a dimmer fixture, opt for a CFL that says “dimmable” on the box. On the same note, look for “3-way ENERGY STAR qualified CFL” to identify bulbs that work with three-way sockets.

* Fixture type— Before you head out the door, check the size of your light fixture(s) so you buy the correct bulb size. Visit ENERGY STAR’s Choose a Light page for a chart that will help you buy the right CFLs for the nine most common types of light fixtures.

* Color—CFLs now come in warm tones. On a light bulb box, look for “Kelvins” to determine where the bulb falls on the color spectrum. Less Kelvins (2700-3000K) equal a warmer light. More Kelvins (>3500K) indicate a cooler light. See ENERGY STAR’s Color and Mood chart.

* ENERGY STAR—Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying light bulbs. These bulbs are certified to meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for energy efficiency and performance.

* Outdoor—When buying a CFL for an outdoor fixture, be sure to buy a bulb specifically labeled “outdoor.” They are usually enclosed to improve their cold weather performance and can better withstand the elements. LEDs will say indoor/outdoor on the package.

Be Bright campaign

The impact of each household replacing just one incandescent with a CFL represents sizeable energy savings. According to the EPA and the DOE, if every U.S. resident replaced one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, the amount of energy saved would light more than 3 million homes for a year and save $600 million. Plus, each CFL saves residents $40 over its lifetime and lasts at least 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

“Because CFLs are still such a smart lighting choice—saving significant amounts of energy and helping our customers save money—Focus on Energy is sponsoring the Be Bright sale with local retailers,” said Schmitt.

Local participating retailers can be found using the tool. Click on the providers tab and select provider for home and select the county in which you live in. Find Energy Star lighting and enter your zip and look for “2011 CAL” in the promotions column. You can also call Focus on Energy at 800.762.7077 for more information.

About Focus on Energy

Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus information, resources, and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed, or to complete projects sooner than scheduled. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment, and control the state’s growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit .


ENERGY STAR was started by the EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products, as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficient specifications set by the EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved approximately $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emission of 33 million vehicles. For more information, visit or call toll-free 888-STAR-YES (888-782-7937).