DIY Friday: How to Read a Lighting Label

When trying to decipher the label on a box of light bulbs, you could become so frustrated your teeth start to grind and your eyes begin to protrude.  If you’re new to the lighting labels, they can be confusing, but fear not!  We’re here to teach you the lingo and explain what everything means.

Image courtesy of Energystar.gov

Image courtesy of Energystar.gov


To put it simply, watts are out and lumens are in.  When determining how bright a bulb is, look for the number of lumens.  The higher the number, the brighter the bulb.

Estimated Yearly Energy Cost

This number will tell you how much it will cost to power this light bulb for one year if lit for three hours every day at a rate of 11 cents per kWh.


If you’re wondering how long a light bulb will last, this is where you want to look.  The life of a light bulb is based on the average usage of three hours per day.  As a rule of thumb: the higher the number, the more efficient the bulb.

Light Appearance

This section indicates the hue of the color that will be emitted.  Warm colors that hover around 2,700K have a lower color temperature and will appear similar to the soft glow of an incandescent.  Cool colors that reach close to the maximum of 6,500K will emit a sharper and brighter blue tone.

Energy Used

Here you will discover how much energy is used to power the bulb.  A lower wattage will indicate less energy and lower electricity costs.

BONUS: Contains Mercury

Certain light bulbs, mainly CFLs, will have a notice at the bottom of the label that will warn you if mercury is contained inside.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mercury is an essential component of CFLs that allows the bulb to be an efficient source of light.  To learn more about how to handle these bulbs, visit EPA.gov/cfl.

We hope this guide will help you the next time you shop for light bulbs.  Once you understand the lighting label, it’s easy to go green!

From everyone at YourEnergyBlog, enjoy your savings (and your weekend)!

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