A handy guide for the new lighting options

Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out, resulting in significant national energy savings. This includes many bulbs you may find around your home. We want to make this transition easier for you. Instead of incandescent, you’ll now be shopping for halogen, LED and compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

LED Lights

LED lights (short for light emitting diode) are the most energy efficient lights, and they are designed to last more than 10 years. Check out this LED lighting guide to learn more about what size and type of LED will meet your needs. For more information on energy efficient lights, visit

Not Watts, but Lumens

When shopping for light bulbs, you’ll notice a new consumer guide on the side of packages. And you might see a word you’re not familiar with – lumens. Here’s an easy chart to learn about lumens. And this Light Bulb Lumen Flyer is very, uh, illuminating.

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)

CFLs are not as efficient as LED bulbs, but they use 3 to 4 times less electricity than standard incandescent lightbulbs and last 6 to 10 times longer than incandescents.

Replacement Chart

If you’re looking to replace some standard incandescent bulbs with CFLs, follow this wattage guide.

  • 60w incandescent = 14w CFL
  • 75w incandescent = 20w CFL
  • 90w incandescent = 23w CFL
  • 100w incandescent = 27w CFL

CFL bulbs and Mercury

Mercury is an essential element in the operation of fluorescent lighting; it allows the bulbs to be an efficient light source. Because CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, it is important to educate yourself on proper use, recycling and disposal of these products. CFLs contain about 5 milligrams of mercury sealed within the glass tubing (compared to about 500 mg of mercury in older home dial thermometers).

So how should you dispose of your CFL?

  • If your bulb failed within its warranty period, return it to the retailer.
  • If you have local recycling options, ask about recycling your CFL.
  • Check into your local household hazardous waste collection site.
  • If none of those are options for you, seal the CFL in two plastic baggies and place it in your trash.

If you should break a CFL, the risks to your family are small, but follow these clean-up guidelines:

  • Open a window and air out the room if possible.
  • Remove all materials without using a vacuum cleaner.
  • Seal all materials in two plastic bags and throw away in an outside trash can.
  • The first time you vacuum this area, remove the vacuum bag after cleaning the area.
    • Because CFLs use less electricity than traditional light bulbs, they reduce demand for electricity; that reduction means less mercury is emitted from power plants.
    • CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury — an average of 4 milligrams in each bulb.
    • No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use.

Even though CFLs contain a small amount of mercury that could ultimately end up in the environment, that amount is significantly less than the amount of mercury avoided as a result of the energy savings.

Recycling and Disposing of CFLs

Like any other product containing potentially hazardous materials that you use in your home, CFLs come with some special instructions. The EPA recommends that you place the CFL bulb in two small plastic baggies before throwing it in the trash. for more CFL disposal tips and instructions on what to do if a CFL breaks in your home.

CFL Myths

Myth #1 – CFLs take a long time to light

CFLs, especially if exposed to cooler temperatures, can take 60 seconds or longer to reach full output. With the newer electronic ballast, the slow start and flicker of some CFLs have been eliminated. However, CFLs may not be right for every application.

Myth #2 – CFLs aren’t as bright as incandescent bulbs

CFLs produce more light per watt of energy consumed than incandescent bulbs. That’s why they are described as energy efficient. When it comes to replacing an incandescent bulb with a CFL, light output is a key factor to compare. Choose by lumens, not by watts.

Myth #3 – The light from CFLs makes colors look funny

CFL packages show information about a bulb’s ability to show the true colors of an object. The “Color Rendering Index” (CRI) is a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the CRI, the more natural the colors will look. A CRI between 70 and 80 is acceptable for most home applications.

Myth #4 – CFLs emit a cold, bluish light

The actual color appearance of the light is called the color temperature and is measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Temperature Appearance
3000K reddish-yellow, warm
4000K whiter, cool white
5000K bluish, cold

Warmer lights are better for most home uses.

Myth #5 – They don’t make CFLs in the type of bulb that I need

The bulb selection seems to get better daily. More sizes and different shapes are available at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and lighting retailers. CFLs can be found to fit in chandeliers, above bathroom mirrors, in wall sconces, and table lamps. Some CFLs now on the market can be installed in circuits with dimmers or timers. Three-way CFLs are even available. Manufacturers offer a range of products that vary by color rendering index and temperature. Read the packaging label to find the CFL that is right for your use.

Myth #6 – CFLs cost too much

CFLs cost much less to own and operate than incandescent bulbs. They use 3 to 4 times less electricity, and they last 6 to 10 times longer. Result: fewer bulb changes.

Myth #7 – Watts measure the amount of light produced

Watts measure the energy used; lumens measure the amount of light produced. Some activities, like reading and sewing, require more lumens than more general uses. When you buy CFLs, select those that produce the amount of light (lumens) for the task.