Lighting Understanding for a More Efficient Nation

Choosing a Bulb

Choosing a Bulb

Once you make the smart choice to pick an energy-efficient bulb, you need to decide which bulb to buy for different fixtures. Companies are making this easy, by having energy-efficient options for almost every type of scenario.

When you go to the store to buy bulbs, there are some questions you can ask to make energy-efficient bulb buying easier:




ENERGY STAR Choose a Light Guide

Click on this image for an interactive lighting tool. See which bulbs you can place in different fixtures in your home. Plus, use the fun dimmer and color appearance switches to see what the lighting would look like! Courtesy of

Which Bulb Works Best for the Fixtures Around Your Home?

Just like when you purchased traditional bulbs, you need to think about the style that fits in the fixture. For example, recessed cans require different bulbs than floor and table lamps.

You should also be aware of where you place bulbs in and around the house. Be careful when putting bulbs in areas where kids play around and can easily knock them over. Additionally, there are varied options for outdoor versus indoor lights.



Online Resource Visualizes 3-D Lighting Design

 Choose the right bulb for every room in your home with the Lighting Research Center’s Patternbook for homes. Click the image to the right and go through all the steps to maximize your lighting energy savings. The free interactive tool produces 3D images to show how the light will look in your home and uses a calculator to show savings.


What is my Preferred Color Temperature?

Energy-efficient options do not just come in blueish hues; you can choose a light bulb based on whether the light looks “cool” blueish, or “warm” yellowish, or somewhere in between. You can find information about color appearance on the labels of energy-efficient bulbs.

Will the New Energy-Efficient Bulbs Dim?

Halogen incandescents dim in the same way as their inefficient incandescent counterparts; however, using dimmable CFLs and LEDs are necessary in fixtures or lamps requiring dimmer switches. Not every bulb is dimmable, so you should check the bulb’s packaging. These special lights work differently than incandescents; dimmable CFLs, for example, maintain light color more consistently than incandescents and dim to 10%-40% of their original brightness.

Will the New Bulbs Work in My Three-Way Lamp?

Three-way CFL bulbs are available for fixtures or lamps that require this feature. You can check the packaging to make sure the bulb is intended for this use. Installing three-way CFLs can require extra effort since they can be slightly larger than their matching incandescents, but they use 1/3 as much energy. This specialty bulb usually comes in the “soft white” color temperature.

More Information On Bulb Comparisons