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 Issue 7  Spotlight on Lighting                                                                           March 2011

In This Issue
Lighting a Hot Topic
Myths and Reality
See the Light!
Watt's a Lumen???
Fun Fact
Fact Sheets
New Light Bulb Standards* 

OLD         NEW 

100 watt   72 watt

75 watt   53 watt

60 watt   43 watt

40 watt    29 watt


New standards will be phased in beginning with

 100-watt bulbs in January 2012, 75-watt in 2013 and 60- and 40-watt in 2014


*reflector lamps and specialty lights such as oven and aquarium lamps are exempted

Read more:

Potential savings from lighting standards 

$100-150 per household


Up to $10 billion national savings annually

NPR's Diane Rehm Show discusses lighting options


Fun Fact

According to a recent USA Today survey, what percentage of consumers are satisfied or very satisfied with the new lighting alternatives?


a. 25%

b. 84%

c. 62%

d. 48%


(answer below)

Quick Links
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Lighting a Hot Topic 
Easy Bake Oven

1960's Easy-Bake Oven

New light bulb standards have been a hot topic in the news media. Talk radio shows, the nightly news, TV pundits, even the Colbert Report have aired commentary and stories. Much of the coverage has been misinformed, asserting such false claims as a ban on incandescent light bulbs and the demise of the Easy-Bake oven (read on for more on that burning issue).

This special issue of "Unplugged" debunks six of the most-repeated myths about the new lighting standards. We also provide some basic information on the new standards and links to resources that will enable those who want more details to dig in. We hope you find it enlightening.


The lighting standards were signed into law as part of a larger federal energy bill enacted in 2007. The traditional light bulb - one of the most inefficient products in most homes - hasn't changed in more than a century. The new standards will be phased in beginning in January 2012 starting with the 100-watt bulb (the phase-in began in January 2011 in California). Compliant bulbs save 25-30% while maintaining the brightness and quality of light. Read below for details on the law and how industry has been innovating to meet the standards. 

Myths and Reality 

Myths and Reality

Though the media and web have been alight with stories about light bulbs, some stories actually keep you in the dark by spreading myths about the new standards. We are here to dispel the myths.
Myth #1: The new standards ban incandescents.
Consumers will still be able to purchase incandescents. New more efficient incandescents are already on the market and use only 72 watts of power to provide the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and save you money on your electric bill. Below are samples from 3 manufacturers. 
3 halogen incandescent

New and improved incandescents 

Myth #2: Everyone will have to buy CFLs.
Consumers will have CHOICES.
CFLs are one of several options available to consumers. Consumers will have a range of better, smarter bulb choices including improved incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs. Improved incandescents generate energy savings of at least 25-30% compared to the 125-year old Edison light bulb (the 100-watt replacements shown above save 28%). CFLs and LEDs save even more, shaving energy usage by more than 75%. 
Myth #3: I'll lose money with the new bulbs.
The new bulbs are a BARGAIN.
You'll save money on your utility bills. The old incandescent is deceiving. Though it only costs about 50 cents to purchase, it costs over $7 a year to operate. Buy a more efficient incandescent for $1.50 and you save about $3.00 over the lifetime; buy a CFL in a multi-pack for $2.00 or less and you save up to $50 over the lifetime. LEDs will save you lots of money over their 25-year lifetime, even more when the sales volume goes up and the initial purchase price comes down.
Myth #4: The U.S. will lose manufacturing jobs.
New JOBS are being CREATED.
Lighting standards are driving R&D investments in the United States and creating manufacturing jobs when we most need them. Sylvania has retooled a plant in Pennsylvania to make the new, efficient incandescents; TCP is building a new factory in Ohio to meet the increased demand for CFLs; Philips in CA, Cree in NC, and Lighting Science Group in FL are creating thousands of jobs to produce LEDs and components. Though GE did close a plant in Virginia last year, it also announced a $60 million expansion of a linear fluorescent lighting factory in Ohio. 
Myth #5: Mercury levels will increase with CFLs.
Overall MERCURY levels will DECREASE.
CFLs do contain small amounts of mercury - about 4mg (for comparison, old mercury thermometers contain about 500mg, 125 times more than a single bulb). In the overall picture, mercury levels will decrease with increased use of CFLs because coal-fired power plants (the top emitter of mercury in the US) will not need to produce as much electricity. CFL's should be disposed of properly--see EPA fact sheet for guidelines. Major retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's accept CFLs for recycling for free.
Myth #6: Standards stifle innovation. 
Ultimate Easy-Bake Oven

Photo courtesy of Hasbro

Standards spur INNOVATION.
After 125-plus years of the same old light bulb, standards spurred manufacturers to introduce new incandescent bulbs to the market.  Standards did for incandescents what 125 years on the free market hadn't done - SPUR INNOVATION. And about that Easy-Bake Oven -Hasbro "will launch the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, a brand new oven complete with a large sized baking chamber, treats designed for today's generation and a heating element that does not use a light bulb!"
 See the Light!

See the Light! Visual primer on lighting choices

light bulb choices

Photo courtesy of NEMA

Choices! Next to the traditional incandescents on the left are halogen incandescents which look and behave exactly like your old incandescents. The 100-watt replacement shown above is 28% more efficient than the old one. Manufacturers introduced these more efficient bulbs to meet the new standards. Most last 1000 hours but some last up to 3000 hours.


CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) generally last between 8000 and 10,000 hours,save 75% compared to traditional incandescents, have better color than earlier models, and now have dimmable options.
LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) have the potential to last up to 25 years and save 75% or more in energy costs. They are still new to market with only 40 and 60-watt replacements available now. Expect prices to come down significantly with higher volumes.

Watt's a Lumen?  
Try This Quiz: Watt's a Lumen? 
A. the amount of light you get from one candle placed one foot away
B. a measure of brightness
C. a term you'll find on the new lighting labels
D. all of the above
You guessed it - all of the above! A lumen is also something you'll hear more about in the coming years as our light bulbs become more efficient. 'Watts' tell us how much energy the light bulb uses and 'lumens' tells us how bright the light is. Before the advent of efficient lighting, it was sufficient to use watts to select a light bulb. Now, a bulb as bright as a traditional 100-watt bulb uses much less than 100 watts of energy. So what is a consumer to do? When buying energy-efficient lighting use the following comparison chart to guide you and 'Look For the Lumens':   

Traditional 100-watt - about 1600 lumens

Traditional 75-watt  - about 1100 lumens

Traditional 60-watt - about 800 lumens

Traditional 40-watt - about 450 lumens


To make it easier to compare bulbs, the Federal Trade Commission has designed a new label which you'll see later this year. If the labels below look familiar, they should; the design is  based on the nutrition labels. You'll find information about brightness, yearly cost, life, and light appearance. The latter should help you find the right 'color' - some like the warmer 'yellowish' light while others like the cooler 'white' light. Below are sample labels for a compact fluorescent and a traditional incandescent bulb. Note the difference between the yearly energy cost. 


FTC lighting labels 



Fun Fact

Consumers Like the Lighting Alternatives!


According to a USA Today poll, the correct answer is b, 84%.

"Nearly three of four U.S. adults, or 71%, say they have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs (light emitting diodes) and 84% say they are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the alternatives, according to the survey of 1,016 U.S. adults taken Feb. 15-16."


 Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets

If you'd like more information or want to dig deeper into technical aspects of the standards, check out following websites:


ASAP: General Service Incandescent Lamps


DOE:  Lighting Choices to Save You Money  

DOE lighting choices

From the DOE lighting fact sheet.


NEMA: Lighting Options For Your Home, 5 L's of Lighting


NRDC: Shedding Light on the New Lighting Standards

Take Action - Support Standards
For more information or to sign up for the newsletter, contact:  

Marianne DiMascio, Outreach Director
Appliance Standards Awareness Project