You are here

Buying the Perfect Energy-Efficient Light Bulb in 5 Easy Steps

September 11, 2014 - 2:00pm


Shopping for energy-efficient light bulbs just got easier! | Photo courtesy of

Shopping for energy-efficient light bulbs just got easier! | Photo courtesy of

I can remember the day I bought my first light bulb. The row of light bulbs varying in wattage, color, size, and shape was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. I ended up buying a light bulb with the wrong number of watts and nearly melted my lamp shade.

But now shopping for light bulbs isn't as scary; not only have I matured considerably since then, but the Lighting Facts Label is much easier to read. And I've discovered Energy Saver has the answers to every question I could imagine about lighting

But if you want a few easy steps to buying the right bulb, I've broken it down for you.

Step 1: ENERGY STAR Means Energy Savings

First look for the ENERGY STAR label. It means that the bulb you're selecting is certified to save energy. ENERGY STAR bulbs are available in all shapes and sizes, and some are even dimmable.

Step 2: Location, Location, Location

Ask yourself, where is this light bulb going? A table or floor lamp? A ceiling fixture? The following chart can help you pick the best bulb for each fixture.

  Table or Floor Lamps Pendant Fixture Ceiling Fixture Ceiling Fans Wall Sconces Rcessed Cans Accent Lighting
Spiral X X X X X    
Globe   X     X    
A-Shape X X X X X    
Candle   X X X X    
MR16   X       X X
Flood           X  
Spot           X  


Step 3: Lumens Not Watts

Next, look for lumens on the Lighting Facts Label. Since you are buying an energy-efficient bulb, you have to look for lumens rather than watts to discover how bright your bulb will be. Watts indicate energy consumed and lumens indicate light output. An ENERGY STAR bulb will consume fewer watts and still provide the same level of brightness. For example, a 100 watt incandescent bulb is about 1,600 lumens.

Step 4: Mood lighting

You're almost there, but first you have to pick your color. Energy-efficient bulbs now come in a range of colors. The light appearance (color) is displayed on the Lighting Facts Label as a number on the Kelvin (K) scale. Warm or lower K means the light will have more yellow/orange hue. A warm white, about 2,700 K, is roughly the standard color of an incandescent light bulb. A cooler white light, around 7,000 K, will look more like natural daylight.

Step 5: Buy It, Install It, Enjoy It

You are ready to go. You've selected the perfect bulb for your home and you're ready to save energy. Now you have to fork over the cash, but if you think your perfect bulb is too expensive, think again! The operating cost of an ENERGY STAR CFL is roughly $1.20 a year and an ENERGY STAR LED is $1.00—much less than the $4.80 per year that it costs to run a 60W traditional incandescent. AND your energy-efficient bulb will last 3%-25% longer! If you replace 15 old incandescent bulbs, you could save $50 a year.

So no more grousing about how difficult it is to pick out the perfect energy-efficient light bulb. Brighten up your home and save money and energy in the process!