Choosing the right light bulb

The way you light your home is changing, starting with how you shop for light bulbs. In addition to new choices in technology – state of the art LEDs or CFLs, for example – you have a variety of options in terms of brightness, as well as how long you want the bulb to last.

Before you hit the stores, do your homework. Determine what lighting attributes are important to you, whether it’s long life, instant-on, dimming capabilities, bulb shape or luminosity. To determine how much switching to a more efficient bulb means for you, look for resources like the savings calculator GE offers at www.gelighting.com/lighttransforms.

The back of every new light bulb package now includes a “Lighting Facts” label that is similar in form to the nutrition label on the back of food boxes. The Lighting Facts label provides information about lumens (brightness), energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (warm versus cool light), wattage and mercury content.

In addition to the Lighting Facts label, some light bulb packaging is placing more emphasis on classifications by watts instead of classifications by lumens. While you may have equated watts with brightness every time you made a bulb purchase, in true lighting terms, this gauge isn’t accurate. Watts are merely the measure of electrical energy used to light a bulb. A lumen is a measure of the bulb’s brightness.

Simply put, the higher the lumen number, the brighter the bulb. So, if you are looking for a brighter light, look for a higher lumen number on the box. The same isn’t necessarily true for watts. In fact, a 13 watt CFL may be brighter than a 60 watt incandescent bulb.