Ask the expert

Ask the Expert: How to Choose a Light Bulb

Need some help purchasing new light bulbs for your home? Buying an energy efficient light bulb that saves money, is long lasting, and protects the environment is easy with these four simple tips. From dimmer capabilities to light color and brightness, EPA has the answers you are looking for as you head to the store. Just Look for the ENERGY STAR and let the experts at EPA lead the way!

Links to related resources


Have you ever had a question about saving energy home, but didn't know where to turn? Now you can get the energy efficiency advice you need to read from Energy Star program. Just ask the expert!

Today we're at the Home Depot in Bowie Maryland to answer a question that’s on the mind many Americans.

How do you buy a light bulb these days?

A lot has changed in the lighting world, and today we're going to get the skinny from expert ENERGY STAR. Taylor Jantz-Sell is the lighting program manager for Energy Star and today she's going to tell how to buy a light bulb in four easy steps.

Taylor, what do people need to know?

Well it's not as confusing as people think. You just need to know what to look for and the good news is it’s right there on the package.

Step one: look for the ENERGY STAR. You can usually find the familiar blue label right on the front of the package. Bulbs that have earned the Energy Star have undergone extensive testing to make sure they save energy and perform properly.

Step 2: Decide how much light you need. What you're probably used to is the old 60-watt incandescent. It puts out about 800 lumens. To find a new more efficient bulb with that amount of light you should look for lumens not watts.

Watts are simply a measure of energy is used, the amount of electricity a bulb needs to operate. The light output or brightness of the bulb is actually measured in lumens. More lumens, mean more light. ENERGY STAR bulbs save you energy and money by giving you the lumens you need with much less wattage. If you don’t remember lumens, don’t worry. ENERGY STAR requirements ensure you will get the right amount of light for the replacement claim on the package.

Ok so we know to look for the ENERGY STAR and we also know that lumens tell us how bright the bulb is. Taylor, what’s next?

Step 3: Think about where you’re going to use the bulb. New bulbs are specially designed for certain applications. Let the package be your guide.

Take these two bulbs for example. They both say they are going to replace your old 60 watt incandescent. Because they have the ENERGY STAR on them you know they are going to shine light out in all directions. Just like you’re old bulb. If there’s no ENERGY STAR, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

And if you’re going to use them in a ceiling fixture that’s totally enclosed with limited air flow, you need to read the fine print. See, this one says it’s not intended for use in enclosed fixtures. Also are you going to use the bulb with a dimmer switch? You need to make sure the bulb is marked dimmable.

Step 4: Think about the mood you want from your light. CFL and LED bulbs are available in warm to cool white light which is also indicated on the package. This comes down to personal preference. The nice thing is that stores like this one have displays so you can see the different types of light before you buy them.

Now you see how simple it can be to find the perfect lighting for your home. Remember to always look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for light bulbs. Certified bulbs use 70-90 percent less energy than the standard incandescent and they’ll last 10-25 times longer. Bulbs with the trusted blue label will save energy, save money, and help prevent climate change.

If you have more questions for EPA just go to It's your one stop shop for energy-saving information. Still have a question? Send in your video and Ask the Expert.