How to Read a Light Bulb Package

Look for some changes to the way light bulb packages are labeled and learn what you need to know to select the right bulbs for your lighting needs.
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New Front Label

The Federal Trade Commission is requiring new labeling information on light bulb packages starting January 1, 2012, to aid consumers in making choices on light bulbs based on lumens and energy efficiency versus wattage for incandescent bulbs. The front of the new light bulb package must display the lumens and the estimated yearly energy cost. Image courtesy of FTC

New Back Label

The new label on the back of every light bulb package, beginning January 1, 2012, will display a Lighting Facts Per Bulb information box, similar to the Nutrition Facts box on food. The Lighting Facts box must include brightness in lumens, estimated yearly energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (also known as the correlated color temperature) and energy used. Image courtesy of FTC

Start Thinking Lumens

With the planned phaseout of the incandescent light bulb starting January 1, 2012, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act, consumers need to start looking for light bulb choices that provide similar light output (lumens) to the incandescent they may be replacing.

Current Package Labeling: Incandescent

Current labeling already helps make the switch from thinking in watts to thinking in lumens. The next three slides show three packages for three different types of A19-shaped light bulbs — incandescent, LED and CFL — that all produce approximately the same lumens. This 40-watt incandescent bulb equals 500 lumens. Photo: Inset from Philips light bulb package.

Current Package Labeling: LED

This 8-watt LED bulb equals 450 lumens. Photo: Inset from Philips light bulb package.

Current Package Labeling: CFL

This 9-watt CFL bulb equals 450 lumens. Photo: Inset from EcoSmart light bulb package.