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Consumer Reports Tests shows LED & CFL Bulbs Use 75 Percent Less Energy than Traditional Incandescents

Plus, a room-by-room guide to choosing the best LEDs and more

Consumer ReportsYonkers, NY – Simply screwing in one of Consumer Reports’ top-rated LED lightbulbs could save consumers about $125.00 in electricity over the bulb’s life.

January 1st, 2014 marks the date when most screw-in incandescent light bulbs will be phased out because they use too much energy. Standard 60- and 40-watt bulbs are the last to be phased out, though remaining stock can be sold. Seventy-five- and 100-watt bulbs faded away over the past two years.

The good news for consumers is that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) use 75 to 80 percent less energy, and can save consumers $60.00 to $125.00 dollars per bulb, compared with a traditional 60-watt incandescent.

Consumer Reports’ Best Buys for bulbs this year include the Utilitech A19 LED at Lowe’s ($20.00) and Great Value 14W CFL at Walmart ($1.25).

Consumer Reports October issue cover story includes ratings of dozens of different types of LED and CFL bulbs. The report also features a room-by-room guide to choosing the best LEDs and CFLs, and a clip-and-save lightbulb buying guide that you can take shopping.  The guide explains the lightbulb lingo you’ll see on packaging, and the pros and cons of LED, CFL and halogen bulbs.

Some LEDs can be expensive to buy, up to $60 each for some floodlights in the Consumer Reports’ ratings. Even at that price, these bulbs can still save consumers about $170 over a lifetime compared with a similar incandescent. Additionally, CR found that manufacturers are making more affordable LEDs these days, including several models that cost $20 or less.

Tips to Finding the Right Bulb for Every Room

Getting lighting right can be tricky so Consumer Reports has identified the best bulb for every room, and has tips to help consumers save money and energy on lighting too.

  1. Family or living room. Aim accent and task lights away from shiny surfaces, such as TV screens, to prevent reflected glare. If the fixture is turned on and off a lot, use an LED. On/off cycling will shorten the life of a CFL. Consider the Samsung A19 LED, $30/– and Great Value 14W CFL, $1.25.
  2. Kitchen and dining room. A centrally placed ceiling fixture or recessed lights usually provide general lighting here. Some CFLs and LEDs are bigger or heavier than incandescents. Bring an old bulb when shopping to prevent getting a bulb that will stick out. Consider the EcoSmart LED, $25/–, for 6-inch recessed lights.
  3. Bathrooms. Cool light is often recommended, but it can distort colors when applying makeup and lights over the sink can cast unpleasant shadows on the face; lights on either side of the mirror or medicine cabinet are better. Consider the Ikea Ledare, $14/– and EcoSmart 6-inch downlight, $25/–, for the best color accuracy of all the LEDs based on Consumer Reports testing.
  4. Bedrooms. Relaxation and romance are key in this room. Dimmers and warm lighting can help, so look for bulbs in the 2700 to 2900 Kelvin range. Skip CFLs in lamps in children’s rooms, where rough-housing is more likely to lead to broken bulbs because they contain mercury.  For lamps and enclosed fixtures the Feit Electric CFL, $2.50, casts a warm light and replaces a 60-watt bulb.  The Samsung LED, $30.00, does too and can be used in a lamp or open shade.
  5. Outdoors. Safety, security and ambience are important, but consumers should consider climate. CFLs take longer to brighten the colder it gets.  Bulbs in the 2700 to 3000 Kelvin range complement warm colored exteriors; cooler colored bulbs, 3500 K or higher, highlight gray-colored exteriors.  The Samsung PAR38 LED spotlight, $55.00 is a good choice and replacement for 75-watt bulbs.

The full report and complete lightbulb ratings are available online now at www.ConsumerReports.org and in the October issue of Consumer Reports.

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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