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Blog/Opinion: More Light for Less Money


As you may have already heard, our light bulbs are changing. They’ll be just as bright but use less energy, cost less, and better protect the environment. Starting in 2012, all screw-based light bulbs sold in the U.S. must meet new federal standards for energy efficiency established by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. Under this law, screw-based light bulbs must use fewer watts for a similar light (a.k.a. “lumen”) output. The law’s energy efficiency standards for light bulbs will be phased in over the next three years (see chart below).


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Today's Bulbs
 After the Standard
 Standard Effective Date
 100 watt
 72 watts or less
 January 1, 2012
 75 watt
 53 watts or less
 January 1, 2013
 60 watt
 43 watts or less
 January 1, 2014
 40 watt
 29 watts or less
 January 1, 2014


Using light bulbs that provide the same light output but take less energy to run will mean that consumers save money on their utility bills. These savings can make a real difference since lighting accounts for about 12 percent of the average household’s energy bill. Using less energy also helps protect the environment by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.


Another positive change we will see in 2012 is a shift in how we purchase light bulbs. Instead of looking for wattage to determine which bulb to buy, we can now look at the light bulb’s lumens. Lumens tell us how much light a bulb will provide versus Watts, which tell us how much energy the bulb uses.


The Federal Trade Commission has designed a new label that you will see on light bulb packages starting next year. These labels will tell you everything from the brightness of the bulb (lumens), estimated operating costs, how long the bulb should last and what color the light will be. Here’s a sample.


Energy Star Labels

This law will not ban any one lighting technology but will provide buyers will a range of better bulb choices in a variety of colors, bulb types, and light levels, including improved incandescent bulbs, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs), and LEDs (Light Emitting Diode Light Bulbs). CFLs represent the best value for consumers today. They use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. A CFL that has earned the ENERGY STAR can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime.


About the author:

Brittney Gordon is a member of the ENERGY STAR communication team. She came to EPA one year ago after a career as a broadcast journalist.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.




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The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

More Light for Less Money:  Created on November 4th, 2011.  Last Modified on November 12th, 2011

About EPA

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. At laboratories located throughout the nation, the agency works to assess environmental conditions and to identify, understand and solve current and future environmental problems.


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