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FTC proposes new labels for LED, CFL, Incandescent light bulbs

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New “output-based” labels to emphasize lumens, not watts, as measure of bulb brightness.

By US Department of Energy Posted Jan 7, 2010

led_b Consumers looking to buy the most cost-effective energy-efficient light bulbs can be confused by the different ways light bulb efficiency is measured. The measure we are all used to, watts, is no longer considered the most relevant measure of bulb efficiency.

The days of referring to a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) as being “equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb” may soon be over, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed new labels for light bulbs that are based on light output rather than energy consumption. The marketplace has been changing quickly with the emergence of newer, more energy-efficient technologies—such as CFLs and light-emitting diode (LED) products—as traditional incandescent bulbs are phased out. The proposed labels provide consumers with information to help them choose among different bulb types.

…new labels for light bulbs are based on light output rather than energy consumption.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) seeks public comments on new labels that emphasize lumens, not watts, as the measure of bulb brightness. This information, along with estimated energy cost information, would appear on the front of the light bulb package. The back of the package would display a “Lighting Facts” label modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” label for food packages. The Lighting Facts label would provide information about brightness, energy cost, the bulb’s expected life, color temperature (for example, whether the bulb provides “warm” or “cool” light), as well as wattage.

The label also would require disclosures for bulbs containing mercury. The bulb’s output in lumens—and a mercury disclosure for bulbs that contain mercury—would also have to be placed on the bulb itself. The NOPR was published in the Federal Register on November 10, and comments were due by December 28.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the FTC to consider the effectiveness of current bulb labeling requirements and explore alternative labeling approaches. As the first step, the FTC issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last year, seeking comments on existing labeling requirements and possible labeling alternatives, and then held a public roundtable to gather more information. See the FTC press release which includes samples of the proposed labels.

Until such labels are available, Eartheasy has prepared a Comparison Chart: LED, CFL, Incandescent light bulbs for consumers which compares the relative light output, in lumens and watts, for LED , CFL and Incandescent light bulbs. Features such as lifespan, cost, durability and dimmability are also included in this reference chart.

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  • Grant

    Just another positive sign that LEDs could eventually become the standard for lighting. They will definitely need to decide on an appropriate labeling and rating system. Greg, your chart does a fine job for the average consumer! Why not just submit that as the official label!

  • Lynn

    I found some interesting facts reading your blog that I didn't know before regarding the different types of lighting. Your article is very well written and I enjoyed reading it ! Thanks for the info !

  • Dana

    Sylvania has developed a new halogen bulb that meets the government standards of energy efficiency and they do not contain mercury. I have these halogen bulbs in my home and they are so very close to natural light, they do not give off the heat of an incandescent bulb, they have saved me alot of money and the best part is they are made in the USA!

    I believe that these are the best alternative for household lighting.

  • LED is the best out there, go LED everyone. save money and the environment…

Blog > Science and Transportation > FTC proposes new labels for LED, CFL, Incandescent light bulbs