Issue No. 31 July 2012

While much information is available about new light bulb standards and equivalencies, many people are still unsure about what to buy. Read on for a few consumer Q&As.

Expert Advice

What kind of lighting creates a cozy, relaxed feeling?

The best lighting for a cozy and relaxed feeling generally comes from any light sources fairly close to eye level, such as table lamps, floor lamps, desk lamps and wall sconces. To achieve that objective, those lights should always be placed on a dimmer.

Other lighting mounted at the ceiling, such as chandeliers or close-to-ceiling fixtures, can also provide that comfort feeling when they are dimmed. The ability for a fixture to achieve the ambience you are looking for is very much dependent on the quantity of lighting, which is why dimming is so important. The higher the lighting level, the more active a space feels. Lighting that is adjusted to a moderate level creates a more relaxed and comfortable space.

Clean & Green

Which light bulbs are most energy-efficient and cost-efficient?

LEDs are most energy efficient. A single Energy Star-qualified LED light bulb can last up to 25,000 hours and use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb. Keep in mind that while a traditional incandescent costs only about 50 cents to buy, it costs more than $7 per year to operate. While an LED bulb might cost $40, it should last about 25 years.

Another good choice is Energy Star-qualified CFLs. These bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last eight to 10 times longer. Also fairly efficient are halogen incandescent bulbs. They use 25 to 30 percent less energy and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

To compare brightness and how the different types of bulbs will look, check the label on each bulb box. Bulb labels now include: lumens (brightness), estimated yearly cost, life expectancy, light appearance and energy used. For more detailed information, go to and

Right Light

What it is the best replacement for incandescent light bulbs?

The only bulb that no longer meets basic efficiency requirements is the 100-watt traditional incandescent. A 100-watt bulb is now required to use no more than 72 watts of electricity. Beginning in January 2013, bulbs as bright as current 75-watt incandescents will not be able to use more than 53 watts. And beginning in January 2014, new standards will apply to 60- and 40-watt bulbs as well.

Good replacement choices for your traditional incandescent bulbs are LEDs (light-emitting diodes), CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and halogen incandescent bulbs.

While the new advanced halogen incandescent bulbs are a type of incandescent, they do meet the new efficiency standards. Traditional incandescent bulbs are still available for certain specialty applications, including heat lamps, appliance lights, aquarium bulbs, and candelabra, decorative, tinted and colored lights.

For more information, check out ALA’s online resources.