How to: Read New Light Bulb Labels

How to: Read New Light Bulb Labels

Take the Guess Work Out of Shopping for Light Bulbs

With all the discussion surrounding light bulbs and what’s being phased out, phased in and most efficient, one can easily be a little confused about what’s available!
Before you find yourself standing in the aisle of your local lighting supplier staring at shelves of lights – or worse, being dissuaded from moving away from traditional bulbs  –  here’s what you need to know to easily read new bulb packaging labels and select the perfect lighting options for you.


The brightness, or lumen levels, is the most significant change in new lighting. Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying your new bulbs, be sure to remember that the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. Brightness of the lights in your home may vary widely depending on the purpose of the space, so here’s a general guideline:

  • To replace a 100-watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens. 
  • Replace a 60 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens. 
  • Replace a 40 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens. 

Another feature mentioned on the label to consider before purchasing your new lights is Light Appearance. Compact fluorescent lights [CFLs], and light-emitting diodes [LEDs] offer color options. These colors can range from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue.  Depending on your personal preferences, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best color for your space. The image to the right illustrates the difference between warm and cool light bulbs.

For more information on lumen visit the Department of Energy’s [DOE] Energy Star website. To learn more about tips to saving energy around your home, visit the Virginia Energy Sense website.