Consumer Reports' most efficient light bulbs

September 2, 2011

While the most popular 60-watt size will continue to be made until 2014, Consumer Reports has been testing alternatives.

LED bulbs are very expensive. They can cost from $17 for a table lamp bulb to more than $60 for a floodlight.

"Even with an LED's high cost , you can still save $100 over its life compared to a standard incandescent," said Consumer Reports' Bob Markovich.

LED bulbs also last longer. Incandescent bulbs only last 1,000-2,000 hours.

"LEDs have some distinct advantages over CFLs. They reach full brightness instantly, and some are also better at dimming," said Markovich.

It's best to get one that has warm color.

For table or floor lamps, Consumer Reports recommends the $40 Philips Ambient. It's equivalent to that of a 60-watt incandescent bulb and claims to last almost 23 years.

For outdoor floodlights, try the EcoSmart Par 38 for $45.

CFLs cost much less and will save you money much sooner.

"Some of the ones we tested this year, use about 60 to 75 percent less mercury than ones we tested just three years ago," said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman of Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports tested more than 26 of the newest CFLs and found they're also good at mimicking the light of incandescent bulbs.

"You want to check for the Energy Star logo. That means the bulb has met strict standards for energy efficiency and durability, but also standards for color and brightness," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.

To get light that's similar to an incandescent bulb, check the label for a color temperature of about 2700K (Kelvin).

"More Kelvins doesn't necessarily mean a brighter bulb. A bulb with 4000 or more Kelvin is actually going to have a bluer light, not a brighter light, and that may not be what you're looking for," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.

For table lamps, Consumer Reports recommends the 60-watt equivalent Eco-smart bulbs from Home Depot. There only $6 for a four-pack.

Consumer Reports says CFLs should always be recycled because even the new ones contain some mercury. Several stores now accept them, including Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe's, and some Ace Hardware stores.

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