It’s no secret that more and more energy-friendly lighting solutions are dominating the market, replacing incandescent bulbs and providing better illumination for much less electricity. If you’re new to these lights, they can be confusing as they often have more information on the packaging than incandescent bulbs.

Below are all the things you need to know about these new light bulbs to make your purchase easier.

Lumens, Not Watts

Many people are used to looking at the wattage rating of a light bulb and associating it with brightness. The more watts, the brighter the light bulb, or so conventional wisdom tells us. With energy-efficient light bulbs like light-emitting diodes (LEDs), however, this approach isn’t as reliable, mainly because LEDs are so energy-efficient. In fact, a 9-watt LED bulb will generate the same brightness of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

The solution is to look at lumens, not watts. A lumen is a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source. It tells you how bright light bulb is, as opposed to watts, which only tell you how much electricity it uses. So, in other words, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light bulb.

Choose Your Replacement

Now that you understand the difference between lumens and watts, you should also know what type of new light bulb is the best replacement for an incandescent bulb.

Generally, there are three different types of energy-efficient lights in the market.

  • Halogen lights, which are a kind of more energy-efficient incandescent bulb
  • CFLs, which are more efficient than halogen lights
  • LEDs, which are the most efficient among the three

You can replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a newer alternative that generates the same number of lumens—around 1600 lumens. This could be a 72-watt halogen light, a 26-watt CFL, or a 22-watt LED.

Look for the ENERGY STAR Rating

When choosing new light bulbs, especially LEDs, look for products that are ENERGY STAR certified. The rating indicates that the manufacturer has passed a number of quality tests on the bulbs to earn that certification. These bulbs will not only last longer, they’re also built better.


The CRI or color rendering index is the quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects in comparison to natural light. In other words, CRI tells you how “true” the color looks under the glow of a light bulb. Naturally, the higher the bulb’s score on the index, the better. A good score for most indoor bulbs 80 or above. 90 or above makes an excellent choice for bathroom vanity lights.

Color Temperature

Check the Kelvin scale, which tells you how warm or cool, or red and blue, respectively, the light produced by a bulb is.

  • Color temperatures in the 2700K to 3000K range have a light similar to the yellow glow of an incandescent light bulb
  • Pure white light, which is usually bluish, ranges around 4000K
  • Temperatures that are close to daylight is around 5000K or higher

Now that you know what to look for, make it a point to check these units and measurements when purchasing new light bulbs to find the best products for your [city] home.