U.S. Energy Mandate and LED Lingo

In 2007 when the government passed a new energy mandate, consumers were given more lighting options that were more energy efficient.

Energy mandate

U.S. energy mandate

Ten years ago the U.S. federal government passed the bipartisan Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Among other things, the mandate stated that light bulbs needed to be 25 percent more energy efficient. The new lighting standards were phased into effect between 2012 and 2014. While the energy mandate didn’t ban incandescent or any specific type of lighting, it did make it more difficult to sell incandescent lights and many existing types of lights needed to be made more efficient to be compliant. Fortunately, by the time the energy mandate went into effect, the lighting industry had made great strides in increasing the efficiency of lighting options, largely by improving LED technology.

While home and business owners can be confident that their lighting choices will meet the standards passed in 2007, there is a new lingo that comes along with using LED lights. Before LEDs, all you need to know was what wattage your lamp needed, typically 60, 75 or 100 watts.

But because of their energy efficiency, LED lights aren’t typically measured in wattage. Instead, they are measured in lumens, CCT, and CRI.


A lumen is the measurement of the output of light. In contrast, a watt is the measurement of the amount of energy needed to emit light. Because LED lights are more energy efficient, they require fewer watts to produce the same amount of lumens. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 800 lumens, and a 100-watt bulb produces around 1,600 lumens.  A LED bulb that produces 800-lumens only requires about 13 watts of energy.


When LED lights first became affordable and common lighting options for consumers, many people complained that the light emitted was too white. To measure the color of a light, CCT (correlated color temperature) is used. CCT relates to the perceived color of a light. The temperature of a light, measured in Kelvins, indicates the warmth or coolness of a light. The lower the Kelvins, the warmer the color of the light will be. If you like the look of old incandescent or halogen lighting, look for LEDs that are 3,000 Kelvin or less. Lights that are like natural bright daylight are around 10,000 Kelvin.


CRI refers to the color rendering index or how closely the light bulb makes an object look like it’s actual color as seen in natural daylight. CRI is not a measurement of the color of the light but rather how it renders the color of an object. If CRI is an important factor to you, bulbs that have a CRI of 100 or close to 100 will be rendered the closest to an object’s actual color.

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