The average household spends about 5 percent of its energy budget on lighting, according to the Department of Energy. Replace your most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star certified LEDs or CFLs, and you'll save energy and—over time—money.

Bulbs that carry the Energy Star label meet high standards for brightness, color, and energy use, and they can earn you rebates from your utility company.

"Our past tests found that LEDs use about 80 to 85 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs they replaced," says John Banta, Consumer Reports' lightbulb expert. "LEDs use slightly less energy than CFLs, and last much longer."

Most LEDs in our lightbulb ratings are claimed to last about 22 years when used 3 hours a day. CFLs should last around 7 to 10 years (many have been discontinued and no longer appear in the ratings).

For comparison, halogen bulbs, a type of incandescent, last a little over a year. Our lightbulb buying guide illuminates how these types of bulbs differ.

For all that's great about LEDs, finding the right ones for your fixtures is no longer as simple as when you grabbed a box of 60-watt incandescents off the store shelf. Here's how to make sure you get the right bulbs for your fixtures.

1. Bring Old Bulbs to the Store With You

It's a sure way to know that the LED you're considering will fit your fixture. Some LEDs are bigger or heavier than other types of bulbs. 

2. Focus on Lumens

They're stated on the back of the box. Lumens tell you how bright the bulb is. (The more lumens, the brighter the bulb.) When incandescent bulbs were still lighting up homes, the 60-watt bulb was the most popular pick. LEDs with at least 800 lumens are just as bright as those bulbs—but use a fraction of the energy. 

3. Check the Light Color

You'll see this information on the back of the bulb box, too. If you prefer a light that's a warm yellow and similar to an incandescent's, then choose an LED that has a color temperature around 2700K (K stands for Kelvins). For white light, pick a bulb that's 3000K or so. Bright white light is 3500 to 4100K, and bluer white light is 5000 to 6500K. You'll find this information right on the box. 

4. Read the Fine Print

You'll need a dimmable LED if you're using it with a dimmer. And you need a dimmer that's compatible with the LED and recommended by the lightbulb manufacturer. You'll find this information on the manufacturer's website. The package will also specify if the LED can be used in an enclosed fixture or in outdoor fixtures. Not all can be.