Seeing the Light!

By Brooke Drake, August 30, 2010, Energy Efficiency

Have you ever had that shopping moment when you are staring at a wall of products such as pickles, Mac n Cheese, etc., trying to figure out the differences in price, quality, and features?  Well I had this moment yesterday when trying to select a light bulb so we can actually see what’s in our closet.  This decision really shouldn’t be that complex, right?  Yet the marketing geniuses at Sylvania, GE, and wherever else have made it quite the dilemma.  How am I supposed to know the right wattage, size, color, energy efficiency, life span?  I just need to see my clothes!

Well, it turns out a government agency is ready to help alleviate this pain. The Federal Trade Commission has announced that effective 2011, light bulbs will have a new informative label on all light bulb packaging. The goal of this new packaging is to enable consumers to save money by being able to select the most efficient bulbs.  The new design will look like the “Nutrition Facts” label on food packages, and will contain helpful information such as:

  • brightness (in lumens)
  • energy cost
  • life expectancy
  • light appearance (whether it provides warm or cool light)
  • wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses) and
  • whether it contains mercury

One additional change will be on the front of the label, where it will point out the bulb’s brightness measured in lumens instead of watts and will also display the estimated yearly energy cost.  The reason for switching to lumens rather than watts is because watts are a measurement of energy use not brightness, which makes it hard to compare common bulbs (incandescent) to more energy efficient ones that have the same brightness but use less energy.

So maybe this information hasn’t completely rocked your world but hey, at least it could make choosing a light bulb a little easier.  I’m sure a “Light Bulb Selector” iPhone app is sure to follow!

For more information on the new package release go to FTC’s article on New Labels for Light Bulb Packaging.

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