The Light Bulb Law: What You Need to Know

As the world is making strides in being more eco-friendly, the light bulbs that Thomas Edison once gave us are becoming a thing of the past.

Starting January 1, 2012 all light bulbs in the U.S. must be at least 25% more efficient, and have labels on both sides of their packaging that explain the bulb’s brightness, annual operating costs and expected life span.

There’s been a lot of information about these new bulbs being spewed out at us, but the real question is—What should I buy?

What’s new? There are three types of bulbs that fit the new requirements. These are more energy and cost efficient than incandescent bulbs. They are:

  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
  • Halogens

What’s better? In comparing the three, LEDs are superior, with halogens coming in as a close second. The LEDs’ longer life and lower energy consumption, makes them the most advanced bulbs on the market.

Their rated life is 15 to 25 years, according to USA Today.

They don’t contain mercury (unlike the CFLs, which have around 4 milligrams of mercury in each bulb)

They are durable—unlike incandescents, the glass is not fragile and prone to easy breakage.

They are a more familiar shape versus the corkscrew of CFLs

How do they replace the typical bulbs? If you’re a fan of the simple round shape that the incandescent bulb is known for, try the LED diffused bulbs.

They work for everyday household lighting, such as hallways, rooms, reading lamps, porches, etc.

They have the same bases as the standard incandescents

They don’t have a weird green glow. Try the GeoBulb 3, which comes in three different colors:

  • Cool (similar to a 60-watt incandescent)
  • Soft (similar to a 50-watt incandescent)
  • Warm (similar to a 40-watt incandescent)

Where do you use them? Both Halogens and LEDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, usable with many different types of fixtures. Halogens work well with general lighting fixtures as well as directional ceiling lighting – whether it’s recessed lights that are in the ceiling or tracking lighting that hangs from the ceiling.

For chandeliers and sconces, where you need a flame-tip bulb, there are now good-looking LED options.

The downside? The biggest complaint against LEDs is their pricier individual cost. However, once the price of the energy the bulb uses is factored into the equation, the price of incandescents (a hefty $328.59) far outweighs the cost of LED and CFL bulbs, with their annual operating costs coming in at $32.85 and $76.65 per year, respectively.

Photo credit: Bulb pictured is Sylvania LED Dimmable 12 W.