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Guide to Efficient Light Bulbs Helps Curious & Confused Consumers

April 22, 2014

13 watt cfl

Media Contact:

Alexis Troschinetz, CERTs or 612-626-0455
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Statewide, MN – Lighting accounts for 5-10% of total energy use in the average American home and costs $50 to $150 per year in electricity. That might not sound like a huge amount, but when you multiply that by the more than 2 million households in Minnesota, it adds up fast.

Due to federal legislation and vast improvements made by the lighting industry, people now have many more choices when they walk down the lighting aisle. In the last two years, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs have become more reliable and CFL bulb costs are nearly as low as incandescent bulbs. In the same two years, LED (light emitting diode) technology has advanced significantly and LED light bulb prices have dropped four-fold. But all of these changes have not made the decision-making process any easier.

“We want Minnesotans to know they can light their homes with the same amount of light for less money,” said Alexis Troschinetz with the Clean Energy Resource Teams. “We know there are a lot of lighting choices out there today, and we know it can be confusing, so we based our Right Light Guide on what consumers said they needed to know and the questions they had about the different bulbs.”

The “Right Light Guide,” a simple two-page document, uses straightforward graphics to educate people about the brightness and color of bulbs. It also lets them compare the pros, cons, and costs associated with using CFLs and LEDs against incandescent bulbs. Switching to energy-efficient bulbs, for instance, can save 85% in costs when electricity cost, bulb cost, and replacement cost are taken into account.

“Who’d think that picking out a light bulb could be so overwhelming?” shared Cari Michaels, a St. Paul resident. “I have to reeducate myself each time I head out to the store for a new bulb. The Right Light Guide helped me make sense of all the details.”

After reading the Right Light Guide, CERTs believes that people can head to the store ready to look at light bulb packaging and find the ones they need. A “Lighting Facts” label, found on all light bulb packages, contains the essential information needed to make a purchasing decision. One tip from the guide is that it’s always good to look for bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR certification, which means that the bulb has gone through testing for high efficiency, performance, and reliability.

The Right Light Guide could not come at a better time to educate consumers. According to the 6th Annual SYLVANIA Socket Survey, only 4 out of 10 consumers were aware that 60 and 40 watt bulbs are being phased out in 2014 (75 watt was phased out in 2013 and 100 watt in 2012).

Mark Welna, owner of Welna Ace Hardware in Minneapolis, talks to customers like Cari Michaels in his store everyday about light bulbs. “They want to light their living room or dining room,” Welna commented, “and they want to know, if they’re not going to use incandescent bulbs anymore, what’s the equivalent CFL or LED bulb. So that’s really what they want to know: what’s the same, for instance, as a 100 watt incandescent bulb, in a more energy-efficient light.”

In the past two years, tens of thousands of Minnesotans have used the Right Light Guide—whether they downloaded it, found it at the State Fair, or received it from their utility—to make smart lighting choices. The newly updated guide will reach even more consumers.

“I find the Right Light Guide to be a very useful tool for our customers,” shared Dave Opsahl of Willmar Public Utilities. “It makes my job easier and I appreciate that.” Dave’s not alone. More than 90 electric utilities have been helping their customers understand new lighting options with customized versions of the Right Light Guide. “I’m looking forward to sharing the new guide with our member utilities and their customers,” said John O’Neil with the Southern MN Municipal Power Agency.

A free copy of the Right Light Guide can be downloaded at, where consumers will also find answers to many frequently asked questions.
High-resolution graphics and additional resources for sharing available at
About CERTs: The Clean Energy Resource Teams—or CERTs—are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. CERTs empowers communities and their members to adopt energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies and practices for their homes, businesses, and local institutions. CERTs is a partnership of the University of Minnesota Extension and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Great Plains Institute, Southwest Regional Development Commission, The Minnesota Project, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

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