It hasn't been all that easy to tell at a glance which wattage of compact fluorescent light bulb
replaces which wattage of incandescent, but that's about to change. The FTC has unveiled new light bulb packaging requirements for lighting manufacturers that is quite similar to the "Nutrition Facts" food labeling. The new labeling should help consumers compare light bulbs quickly and easily at a glance.
The first attribute listed on the "Lighting Facts" label is the brightness, measured in lumens. No longer will you have to compare light bulbs by wattage, which was counter-intuitive at best. Now you can compare exact numbers between compact fluorescent light bulbs and incandescents; i.e. if one is higher, it means the bulb is brighter. Another piece of information displayed that would normally take a little digging and calculating is the Estimated Yearly Energy Cost. The label arrives at this figure by using default numbers of 3 hrs usage per day at $0.11 kWh.
Further information included Life, Light Appearance, and Energy Used. Ironically, the previously most prominent piece of information (wattage) is now the last piece of info to be shown, as most energy efficient lighting solutions consume similar amounts of energy. The Life estimate uses the same estimated daily usage as the Estimated Yearly Energy Cost (3 hrs/day) to arrive at an estimated lifetime for the light bulb. Light Appearance displays the color temperature and whether it is "warm" or "cool" by placing an indicator along a line from Warm to Cool. Compact fluorescent light bulbs will contain an additional area at the bottom of the label indicating that the bulb contains mercury, with a .gov website to visit that explains more.
I think this is a great thing for light bulbs. As someone who works in the industry it's always been easy choosing light bulbs, but if you don't access lighting information on a daily basis it can all seem like gobbledygook. These new light bulb labels will display pertinent information prominently on all types of light bulbs including compact fluorescents, LED light bulbs
, halogen, etc. This will allow consumers to differentiate between different light bulbs on the spot with mere glances.