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Shopping Tips for Lighting Products

The Issues

Lighting products consume significant amounts of energy and can be responsible for emissions of mercury to the environment. From a lifecycle perspective, the primary environmental impacts of lighting products include:

  • Emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants from the power plants that generate electricity.
  • Mercury pollution, either from inclusion in some types of bulbs or from coal-fired power plants.

What to look for

  • The most energy efficient lighting products for residential use are Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), followed by T-5 and T-8 Fluorescent Tubes and Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs).
  • For a given application, find the product that will meet your lighting needs while consuming the lowest wattage value. Efficient lamps have a high efficacy value, measured in Lumens/Watt.
  • Opt for CFLs or Fluorescent Tubes with low mercury levels (less than 2 mg).
  • Buy certified products – ENERGY STAR rated LEDs and CFLs.

What to avoid

  • The least efficient lighting products include Halogen and Incandescent bulbs, as well as T-12 Fluorescent Tubes. Many of these bulb types are going to be removed from the market in the next two years because they are so inefficient.
  • Avoid CFLs or Fluorescent Tubes with high mercury levels (more than 4 mg).

GoodGuide Recommends

When buying bulbs, consider the lighting need you are addressing and identify your options after considering product attributes like type, size, or shape or other lighting characteristics (light intensity, color temperature, color rendering index). Once you have a set of products that meet your need, select the lighting with enough lumens to meet your needs at the lowest wattage possible and choose bulbs with the longest rated lifetime.

Be sure to turn off lights that are not being used to conserve energy. There is a brief power surge when fluorescent lights are turned on, equivalent to a few seconds of normal operation. Even so, it is almost always beneficial to shut off all lights when leaving a room.

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