If you’re confused about the status of the traditional incandescent light bulb, the differences between Halogen incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs, as well as the meanings of lumens and the K scale, then keep on reading.

It’s a myth that the federal government banned the incandescent light bulb with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

“What the legislation did is mandate 25% more efficiency in light bulbs beginning in 2012, spurring consumer awareness of energy-saving but higher-priced lighting options, such as Halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED),” says David Mayer, OUC Sustainability Supervisor.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential Halogen incandescent, CFL and LED light bulbs use 25% to 80% less energy and last three to 25 times longer than the ordinary incandescent bulb. ENERGY STAR-certified bulbs are even more efficient and longer lasting. Greater efficiency and extended lifespans more than make up for the higher costs of energy-saving light bulbs, but their prices are coming down as manufacturers compete for market share.

Of the three energy-saving bulbs, which provides the most bang for the buck?

The LED bulb, hands down. Check out this chart by the Energy Department for a comparison of light bulb efficiency.

Now, about lumens. They’re the measure of light output, or brightness: The higher the number of lumens the brighter the light emitting from the bulb. Packaging of today’s energy-efficient bulbs usually shows the equivalent wattage of the incandescent bulb being replaced. For example, an LED bulb rated at 800 lumens is the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb but uses only 12 watts of power.

Here’s a handy conversion chart by the Energy Department:

But wait, there’s more. Light color is measured by the Kelvin (K) scale, which ranges from 2700k to 6500k. Warm yellow colors are at the low end, cool white glows are in the mid-ranges and the blue colors of daylight are at the high end of the scale.

You won’t need to commit all this information to memory, either, because everything a consumer needs to know about a light bulb is on the product label.

Click here for a thorough explanation of a LED label.

Looking for additional ways to save on your energy bill? OUC electric customers can schedule a FREE energy audit by clicking here.