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The Low-Down on Lighting Up

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Light Bulbs To Get Nutrition-Style Labels Next Year
by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California on 06.24.10

The Low-down on Lighting UP.

Late last year we reported that the US Federal Trade Commission proposed a new label for compact fluorescent lightbulbs that would show vital statistics like mercury content and the light output in terms of lumens rather than watts, which would make the brightness of CFLs, LEDs and other lighting technology more comparable among consumers. Well word has just hit that the new system has been approved and we’ll soon see nutrition-facts-style labels on our lights.

EarthTechling gave us a heads up about the new label, pointing us to the announcement from the FTC.

The FTC states, “Under direction from Congress to re-examine the current labels, the FTC is announcing a final rule that will require the new labels on light bulb packages. For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulbs’ 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.”

Watts is the old standard for lighting, but we’ve come to associate the term with brightness, rather than energy consumed. We know a 60 watt bulb is brighter than a 40 watt bulb, so we buy what suits our brightness needs. However, new energy efficient bulbs can use as little as 13 watts for the same brightness as a 60 watt incandescent or a 9 watt bulb can replace a 70 watt incandescent, so we need an apples to apples way of comparing bulbs in terms of both brightness and energy consumption. That solution is held within this new labeling system.

The FTC announcement shows what will be included on the label, including:

* brightness;
* energy cost;
* the bulb’s life expectancy;
* light appearance (for example, if the bulb provides “warm” or “cool” light);
* wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses); and
* whether the bulb contains mercury.

The new information will come to be handy as we start to navigate the new lighting options, which are sure to shift even more in the coming years as LED and even OLED lighting technology hits mainstream retailers.

The new labeling will start mid-2011, according to the FTC.


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

4 responses »

  1. Andy Whelan

    Well done – great site Peter.
    Excelent collation of interesting articls.

  2. P.McCarthy

    Cool Peter

    • Cool is right – the ‘old’ lights are simply heaters with some lighting capacity.
      They need to get the mercury out of the CFL’s though. Soon.



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