Shedding light on purchasing light bulbs

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Energy efficient lighting saves money.

The law requires light bulb manufacturers to provide information for selecting the most energy efficient bulb. The package for all bulbs must give the following information:

-Light output: How much light the bulb produces, measured in lumens. A 60-watt regular incandescent bulb yields about 855 lumens.

-Energy usage: The total electrical power a bulb uses, measured in watts.

-Voltage: If the bulb is not 120 volts, the voltage must appear on the label. Light output wand efficiency decrease when a bulb is used with voltage that is different from the voltage in the house.

Here’s what to know before buying:

Regular incandescent bulbs. Everyday pear-shaped bulbs with a screw-in base, these bulbs use electricity to heat a filament until it glows white hot, producing light. About 90 percent of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs is lost as heat.

Compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs provide as much light as regular bulbs while using just one-fourth the energy. For example, a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb gives out the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Compact fluorescent bulbs last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent spotlights and floodlights burn for about 2,000 hours.

Halogen bulbs contain a small capsule filled with halogen gas, which emits a bright white light. When possible, DOE suggests using more efficient compact fluorescent lamp bulbs instead.

General service fluorescent bulbs. More energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, general service fluorescent bulbs do not produce heat. They are thin, long tubes often used in offices, garages and basements. They last 10 to 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network website at

Ruth Brock is a regional extension agent. She can be reached at at or 612-4066.