The law mandating energy efficiency improvements to light bulbs may be the most controversial energy-related topic in America right now. The higher energy standards will boost sales of energy-efficient lighting options like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). But most consumers aren’t familiar with the array of lighting choices available to them, and finding the right light bulb can be confusing and frustrating.
energyNOW! special correspondent Daniel Sieberg recently shed some light on the situation by comparing the different types of bulbs in a studio demonstration. He tested several different types of LED, compact fluorescent, halogen, and hybrid light bulbs, and rated them on cost, brightness, type of light they produce, and how fast they turn on. To watch the full demonstration, check out the video below:
How about some more background, though? When the law, passed by Congress in 2007, takes effect on January 1, 2012, all light bulbs sold in the U.S. must be 30 percent more efficient than the amount of light they produce. The new standards will phase in, affecting 100-watt bulbs in 2012, 75-watt bulbs in 2013, and so on. Incandescent bulbs won’t suddenly be illegal — they’ll just have to be more efficient. The law also includes 22 exceptions for lighting that include three-way and shatterproof bulbs.
With that behind us, let’s get to the demonstration results!
- Daniel thinks the light from a Phillips 60-watt equivalent ambient bulb is “warm and buttery.” The bulb comes on instantly and costs about $40.
- The EcoSmart 40-watt equivalent LED bulb costs about $18 and also comes on instantly. Daniel says the light it emits is more like that of a spotlight.
- The General Electric Energy Star 40-watt equivalent bulb costs about $35 and also comes on instantly. But Daniel thinks the light isn’t as warm as other bulbs and says the design, with fins on the outside, is a bit unusual.
- General Electric’s 75-watt equivalent CFL costs less than $7, but it takes a little while to warm up and Daniel says many people believe the light is harsh and gray.
- The Philips EcoVantage 60-watt equivalent incandescent bulb also costs less than $7, comes on immediately, and produces the same light as a traditional incandescent bulb. It also uses only 43 watts of electricity, meeting the new efficiency standards for bulbs.
- The Philips Halogena 60-watt equivalent halogen incandescent bulb costs about $9, but it uses only 40 watts. The light is warm and evenly distributed.
- The GE Energy Smart Halogen CFL hybrid 15-watt hasn’t hit the market yet, so its cost is undetermined. The halogen light keeps the bulb bright until the CFL warms up. Daniel says the light has a fairly warm glow.
Ultimately, consumers will have to decide which light bulb is right for their individual needs. One helpful resource is the Energy Star website, which lists multiple consumer-friendly resources.