Lighting guide helps curious and confused shoppers choose new bulbs


by Dan Thiede, Clean Energy Resource Teams
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Resource illuminates differences among efficient light bulb choices


Media Contact:
Dan Thiede, CERTs Communications Manager
University of Minnesota Extension and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships or 612-626-0556

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Click for larger image and more info Statewide, MN – “All I wanted was a light bulb that would look and feel the same as my old bulb,” said Shaina Brassard, a Minneapolis resident. “When you go to the store you have so many choices now—it can be confusing.”

It’s now been a few months since new national light bulb standards took effect, and Brassard and others like her want be sure they’re making a good choice when a light burns out and they head to the store to replace it.

A free guide released just in time for Earth Day this Sunday, April 22 by the Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, is helping residents by illuminating all light bulb options—incandescents, halogens, compact-fluorescents (CFLs), and new light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—comparing costs, longevity, brightness, and color.

“The guide helped me see the pros and cons of the different bulb options clearly laid out,” Brassard continued, “and helped me learn what to look for in the store to get a quality bulb that looks good.”

“We know there are a lot of lighting choices out there today, and we know it can be confusing,” said Dan Thiede, CERTs Communications Coordinator. “We designed our new Right Light Guide based on what consumers said they needed to know and the questions they had about the different bulbs. We think this guide will help consumers find a light bulb they like more quickly.”

Click for larger image and more info Mark Welna, owner of Welna Ace Hardware in Minneapolis, talks to customers in his store everyday about light bulbs. “They want to light their backyard—or it might be 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 compact fluorescent. 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.”

The Right Light Guide can be downloaded for free from the CERTs website and used by individuals—or even groups that serve others with questions about lighting. “It’s the kind of resource that utilities, hardware stores, and local governments can share with their communities and customers when they are approached with questions,” said Michelle Vigen. “We’re customizing the guide for utilities so they can send a copy out with their customers’ monthly energy bills. Hardware stores can laminate one and hang it in their lighting aisle, and local governments can distribute the guide to their citizens.”

Electric utilities provide support to their customers with questions about lighting. Kim Sherman at Xcel Energy says that legislative changes and an abundance of new lighting options—like CFL and LED bulbs—are adding confusion for consumers. “Ultimately, we want customers to use higher efficiency bulbs so they can save energy and money,” says Sherman. “It’s important for people to understand the benefits or pitfalls of the various technologies out there.”

Over 80 utilities, keen to see this caliber of educational resource, have already customized the guide for their use. “The CERTs Right Light Guide lays out today’s lighting options in the clearest way, showing all the varieties available to consumers,” noted Roger Warehime at Owatonna Public Utilities. “It also has some very valuable tips on picking out a bulb with a warm quality to its light. It’s a resource we are grateful to have for our communities.”

Download the guide at


Looking for a story idea? Check out a recent article from the Pioneer Press: How many decisions does it take to replace a light bulb?

More contacts for this story: We recommend contacting both a hardware store in your area as well as your electric utility provider to ask them what sorts of questions people have about lighting.

Tools for sharing: High-resolution graphics and additional resources for sharing available at

About CERTs: The Clean Energy Resource Teams connect you with resources to identify and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs is made up of community members across Minnesota who share a bold vision for Minnesota’s energy future: to foster strong communities, to create local jobs, and to develop clean and reliable energy from clean sources.

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Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission