1. If you love incandescents, look to halogen.

It is not illegal to own and use the existing standard incandescent bulbs, but once retailers' supplies are depleted, that's it. But the incandescent bulb isn't dead. Moving forward, the general service bulbs that will be available will include halogen light bulbs, which are actually a subcategory of incandescent bulbs. They are 25% more energy efficient than standard incandescents, and they can last up to three times longer. Also like standard incandescents, they're dimmable and come in a range of sizes, shapes and colors. Available halogen options and their discontinued standard incandescent equivalents are as follows:

  • 29 watts halogen = 40 watts incandescent
  • 43 watts halogen = 60 watts incandescent
  • 53 watts halogen = 75 watts incandescent
  • 72 watts halogen = 100 watts incandescent

2. Look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Especially in LEDs, the manufacturing quality of the bulb varies, with lesser bulbs not lasting as long as their better-built counterparts. Lighting experts currently recommend only buying ENERGY STAR qualified LED light bulbs, as they have to pass numerous quality tests to earn that designation.

3. Look at the bulb's Color Rendering Index (CRI).

This will help with CFLs especially. You want your fluorescents to have a good CRI, which is the measurement of how true the color of an object looks under the bulb's light. A good CRI for most indoor residential applications is 80 or above. A really good one is 90 or above, which is an excellent choice for bathroom vanity lights. All halogen/incandescent light bulbs have a CRI at or near 100.

4. Check the color temperature.

On new light bulb labels, you can find the bulbs' color temperature, measured on the Kelvin scale. The warmer light colors associated with incandescents are on the lower end of the scale. So if that's your preference, look for LEDs and CFLs with light color temperatures in the 2700K to 3000K range. Pure white light hovers around 4000K, while cooler temperatures that simulate daylight are 5000K or higher.

5. Forget watts...look for lumens.

Why? Lumens equal brightness; watts do not. (Watts measure energy used.) CFLs and LEDs use much fewer watts than incandescents with the same brightness. As a general rule, you'll replace a standard 75 watt bulb with an energy-saving bulb of about 1100 lumens. And, on the low end, replace a 40 watt bulb with an energy-saving bulb of about 450 lumens. New bulb labeling standards show lumen output and will help you choose the right brightness for your needs.

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