When the federal government announced in late 2007 that most screw-in incandescent bulbs would be phased out by 2014 because they use too much energy, it seemed light years away. But come January, remaining stock of the popular 60-watt bulb can be sold and then they're gone. Here's a look at some of the best 60-watt replacements for lamps and ceiling fixtures from Consumer Reports' latest tests as well as ways to save.
Pay now, or pay later. Incandescent bulbs are a bargain, until you turn them on. LEDs use about 80 percent less energy to provide the same amount of light and last much longer. Toss your 60-watt incandescent, screw in an LED, and save about $125 over the LED's 23-year life. A $20 LED pays for itself in about three years.
Consider these bulbs. The top-rated Samsung A19 60-Watt Warm White LED, $30, casts a warm yellow light. The Utilitech A19 13.5 60-W Warm White LED is $20, provides a white light, and can also be used in enclosed fixtures. Both LEDs are dimmable.
Keep an eye on price. New LED brands have increased competition and are helping to lower prices. Manufacturers told us that more $10 LEDs are coming next year.
Consider these bulbs. The dimmable 3M LED 60W gives off a white light and is $20. The new $13 Cree 60-watt replacement instantly provided a bright, warm yellow light in our initial tests and has an unusually long 10-year warranty. We'll add the Cree to the Ratings when testing is done.
Look for rebates. Check for offers from your utility and manufacturers. Many of the recommended LEDs and CFLs are Energy Star qualified, so search the Energy Star website for updates. The Star matters if you're looking for utility rebates.
Consider these bulbs. The Insignia A19 60-Watt Dimmable LED, $20, is also a top pick and casts a white light. Prefer a warmer light? The Great Value 14W 60W Soft White CFL from Walmart offers the warmest yellow light of the recommended bulbs, but it isn't dimmable and as with all CFLs, takes a moment to fully brighten. But CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than an incandescent so this $1.25 CFL can save you about $60 over its 9-year life.
LEDs and CFLs that make our recommended list offer impressive performance after 3,000 hours of testing—that's almost three years of the bulbs being on for three hours a day. We also test LED and CFL replacements for 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which have already been phased out, along with energy-saving flood/reflectors for recessed and track lights and outdoor lights. Our lightbulb Ratings show that some LEDs and CFLs are much better than others, so take a look.