New Labels for Light Bulb Packaging

Starting in 2012, consumers shopping for light bulbs will notice new labeling on the
packages designed to help them choose among the different types of bulbs on the
market: traditional incandescent bulbs, newer high-efficiency compact fluorescent
(CFL), or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The new labels (PDF) will emphasize
lumens, not watts, as a measure of bulb brightness so consumers can select the most
efficient bulbs for their lighting needs and save money.

For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulb’s
brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. The new
front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the
particular type of bulb.

Watt measurements are familiar to consumers and have been featured on the front
of light bulb packages for decades, however, watts are a measurement of energy use,
not brightness. As a result, reliance on watt measurement alone makes it difficult for
consumers to compare traditional incandescent bulbs to more efficient alternatives,
such as the compact fluorescent. With current labeling, it is difficult to tell if a
compact fluorescent bulb can produce the same amount of brightness (lumens) as a
traditional incandescent bulb while using significantly less energy (watts).

New energy standards mandated by Congress will effectively phase out traditional
low-efficiency incandescent bulbs from the U.S. market over the next few years. The
new labels that focus on brightness in lumens will help consumers make purchasing
decisions as they transition to more energy-efficient types of bulbs.

Under the new rule, the back of each package will have a “Lighting Facts” label
modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” label that is currently on food packages. The
Lighting Facts label will provide information about:

  • Brightness (measured in lumens)
  • Energy cost
  • The bulb’s life expectancy
  • Light appearance (ie. emits “warm” or “cool” light)
  • Wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses)
  • If the bulb contains mercury

In addition, the bulb’s brightness and a disclosure for those containing mercury will
be printed directly on each bulb.