Today's light bulb standards are changing quickly. In California, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs have been phased out, and are no longer available for purchase. Starting in 2012, these inefficient bulbs will be phased out in the rest of the U.S., too.
The replacement light bulbs currently available in stores produce just as much light as "energy hog" bulbs, but are far more energy-efficient. So how do you know which bulb to choose? Just look for the word "lumens" on the package.
Simply put, lumens indicate a bulb's light output. The higher the lumen number is, the brighter the bulb is.
For decades, light bulbs were compared based on watts, which indicate how much power each bulb is consuming. With lumens, you choose a bulb based on how much light you need, not how much energy it needs.
For example, a CFL or LED light bulb can have the same lumens as a normal incandescent, but use a fraction of the energy.
To make the transition smoother for you, soon, all light bulb packages will prominently indicate the brightness of each bulb in lumens, along with its wattage. You’ll also see the projected energy savings from buying a more efficient bulb. Currently, ENERGY STAR® CFL packages already display this information.
Remember, watts indicate the amount of power used, and lumens indicate the actual amount of light output. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo, which highlights those light bulbs that meet minimum efficacy, lifetime, and quality standards.
There is a wide variety of energy-efficient lighting products to choose from but CFLs are a great choice, so look for bulbs with this sticker on the box. The rebate amount is included in the price, so you receive instant savings when you purchase your bulb at a retail store. Choosing energy-efficient bulbs will help you save on your utility bill, too.
No paperwork or rebate applications are needed. Simply purchase and install the qualifying product. Find a local participating retailer now.
CFLs contain very small amounts of mercury and should be disposed of properly. Like other hazardous items, CFLs don’t belong in your household garbage and is against California law as of February 2006.
To find your local recycling center, visit the Earth911 website or call 1-877-EARTH911, or your local garbage collection company. You can also visit the California Take-It-Back Partnership to learn more about fluorescent lamp recycling and drop-off locations near you.
You can also learn more (PDF, 217 KB) about mercury levels in CFLs as well as additional information about recycling bulbs.
© Pacific Gas and Electric Company