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Consumer Reports Tests CFL & LED Bulbs

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(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In January, new federal regulations on energy efficiency go into effect that will begin to phase out standard incandescent light bulbs.

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

Consumer Reports’ Kimberly Janeway is evaluating some of the latest LED bulbs in her home. She thinks objects look pretty good under the light.

“You want a light bulb that’s as close to the incandescent. It has warm color. This LED happens to be a lot like that,” Janeway said.

“Even with an LED’s high cost, you can still save $100 or more over its life compared to a standard incandescent,” Bob Markovich said..

LEDs also last longer. Some of the ones that were tested were continuously on for nearly 9,000 hours.

Incandescent light bulbs usually only last up to 2,000 hours.

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

However, not all LEDs are good at distributing light. A Sylvania 60-watt Ultra LED shines most of its light up toward the ceiling. It doesn’t give you much light to read under.

Far better for table or floor lamps is the $40 Philips Ambient.

It’s the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb and claims to last almost 23 years.

For outdoor floodlights, try the Eco-Smart Par 38 for $45. It promises to last even longer.

Even though these light bulbs are prevalent, contrary to what you might have heard, you can still buy most incandescent light bulbs, including the most popular 60-watt size.

However, it makes sense to replace them with CFLs, which are more energy efficient and last longer.

Consumer Reports’ latest tests find they’ve gotten better.

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

Testers found today’s CFLs do a good job mimicking the light of incandescent bulbs.

To get light that is like an incandescent’s, check the label to make sure it has a color temperature of about 2,700 Kelvin.

For table lamps, Consumer Reports said a good choice is the 60-watt equivalent Eco-Smart bulbs from Home Depot. They cost $6 for a four-pack, and their light is like a traditional incandescent’s.

Consumer Reports said 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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