8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

Summary: Anticipating consumer confusion over new energy-efficient light bulbs, two consumer groups publish free purchasing guide.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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OK, I'll admit it. I cover this stuff and even I remain somewhat confused about what exactly is taking place on Jan. 1, 2012, when a first wave of lighting-efficiency policies under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 goes into effect. Anticipating confusion over the changes, especially amid continued political wrangling on how to enforce them, the non-profit Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union have published a guide to selecting the energy-efficient bulbs that make sense for your personal situation.

The guide, "How Many Tips Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb," offers eight tips and myth-busting information.

"Contrary to reports, incandescent lights are NOT being banned, they are simply becoming more efficient," said Mel Hall-Crawford, energy projects director for the Consumer Federation of AMerica. "Consumers will have expanded choices, but will need to understand them so when they go to the store so they can buy the product that meets their needs best."

Here is the short-hand on the tips. (The guide is only two pages, so I encourage you to download the whole thing.)

  1. There are three main choices when it comes to energy-efficient bulbs: halogen incandescents that use much less energy than traditional ones; compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that use 75 percent less energy and offer the best consumer value; and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which save the same as CFLs and last up to 25 years but cost more to buy upfront.
  2. Lumens, not watts will help you figure out which bulb is brightest. You'll have to learn how to translate.
  3. Lighting "color" will be different, moving from yellow tints to those that are bluer and whiter.
  4. Manufacturers are required to include "Lighting Facts" information on their products, so check the packaging on the bulbs you are considering.
  5. Because CFLs contain mercury (a very small amount), they will need to be recycled.
  6. Not every bulb can be dimmed.
  7. Downlight and recessed lights will require different bulb shapes.
  8. Look for the Energy Star label for the most energy-efficient choices on the market.

Topic: Tech Industry

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8 comments
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  • RE: 8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

    Well the last CFL I bought did not say it contained mercury anywhere on the package and I was looking
    mrlinux
    • RE: 8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

      @mrlinux

      There is no need to 'recycle' a compact fluorescent. The common thing about "IT HAS MERCURY!" is diminished by the fact that more mercury is produced by burning coal for the energy to light it for one day than is in the bulb.

      Just throw them in the trash... done!
      Lerianis10
  • Just Went LED in a bunch around the house and like it.

    Replaced 4 ceiling fan CFL's that took 5 minutes to reach full brightness with the $9.99 LED's from Home Depot. They rock. Bright, white light (not that nasty yellow like incandescent) and they are a few watts less than the CFL's that they replaced. Only negative is that they don't light up the ceiling like the old bulbs did.

    Also ended up replacing the recessed light in the kitchen when the CFL that was in there fell apart on me when I removed it to clean it. Got the $29.99 CREE replacement bulb with the trim at Home Depot too. Works great although the light is a little too warm for my tastes - I like the 3000K of the other LEDs. But it is nice and bright and a good replacement for the tired CFL that was there.
    itguy10
  • RE: 8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

    It's nice to see stuff that I learned in college actually appear in the real world, no matter how basic the guide.
    BS0D
  • Personally, I'm not buying the "25 year" claim.

    I have used several small LED lights, such as night lights and small outdoor bulbs. The most I ever got was about 2 years before they burnt out, though the packages made claims of "10 years". I see a 25 year lifespan as being very, very unlikely.
    shawkins
    • RE: 8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

      @shawkins

      I don't think so. The fact is that every LED I have ever used, if it is not on 24/7, works for way more than 2 years.

      If the bulbs are burning out on you that soon, there is either something wrong with the fixture you have them in or the power to your house.

      Especially, surges in power are a known LED killer.
      Lerianis10
    • RE: 8 tips for navigating new energy-efficient lighting rules

      @shawkins

      You would have to make sure the enclosure you are putting the LED bulbs in outdoors is water tight. Consumer grade LED bulbs are not directly made for outdoor conditions. When you buy a commerical grade outside LED light, you will see the difference and it will last a lot longer.

      In regards to what Lerianis10 said, it is true that LED lights are vulenable to power surges in the homes, but that mainly applies to the night lights that use LED bulbs. Those have very small transformers in them and cannot provide a good amount of protection.

      The LED bulbs that are made to look like regular light bulbs have a bigger transformer to protect them.

      I just like the the LED bulbs in a few years will become more energy effiecient without suffering loss of light performance lumens wise. I do like that the majority of LED bulbs are dimmable, a feature not really availible in CFL's. Plus LED's are manufactured without any mercury in them,
      ajapierce
  • Short-hand of tips

    Short - and energy efficient sweet.
    klumper