Image showing both a fluorescent and an incand...

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) and Incandescent Bulb

CFLs. LEDs. Edison. Have You Switched Out All Your Light Bulbs Yet?

I’m about half-way there.

Are cheap, easily-available incandescent light bulbs, the kind that all our lamps use, going to be illegal in January, 2012?

Not exactly. But, they’ll be hard to find.

According to a recent Washington Post article, whatever bulbs we buy have to be 30-percent more energy-efficient, as a result of the Energy Independence Act of 2007, which goes into effect next year

What Are Our Options?

The lighting companies have answered this requirement by ramping up their marketing of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), halogen lights and light-emitting-diodes (LEDs) which easily meet this standard.

The new business model is to change from the disposable light bulbs we’ve used since they were invented by Thomas Edison in 1879, to the long-term bulbs, which require an upfront investment of from $3 to $25, instead of the 50 cents of incandescents.

100-watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out on store shelves in January, 2012, with 40-watt bulbs the last to go in January 2014. You haven’t been able to buy 100-watt incandescents in California or at Ikea for a year already.

What’s In It for Me?

The expected savings per household in electricity costs of moving to longer-lasting bulbs?

$100 to $200 per household a year by 2020. A total of $6 billion for all households by 2015, in just three years.

And, because the bulbs last longer and are more efficient, the country expects to need 30 fewer large power plants.

Are CFLs Still Too Big for My Lamps?

The lighting manufacturers have taken some input from consumers.

Early CFLs were darker than their reported incandescent equivalents. Newer versions explain that consumers need to compare lumens (lightness) not watts (energy used) in order to get a near-equivalent brightness.

Those new to fluorescents may still need to get used to the idea that they take a while to reach their full brightness when they are turned on.

They are actually more efficient if you leave them on instead of switching them on and off frequently.

And, lighting companies have introduced a range of colors from the traditional blue light of fluorescents to the warmer yellow light of incandescents, in response to consumers.

Early versions were too big to fit in traditional lamps. Newer versions are smaller, though still don’t fit all lamps. There are many light fixtures that still do not accommodate the longer bulbs.

What Can I Expect?

You can look forward to lower electricity bills and fewer trips to the grocery store to replace bulbs.

You may also have to go shopping for new lamps.

It took me five years to turn over my wardrobe when I started buying clothes that were in a narrow range of colors.

But, I don’t buy lamps that often.

I guess I’ll just have to think about all the power plants that aren’t going to be needed and use my first few years of savings buying lamps.

Then, I’ll start thinking of other ways to use those savings.

Did you teach your children to turn off the lights whenever they left a room?

What kind of lighting did you have growing up? Lamps? Overhead ceiling lights? Bare bulbs?

Do you use lighting for reading? For mood? As background for the tv?

Did you have fluorescent lights growing up? For desk lamps? In the shop?

Monday through Wednesday we write about the way the world has changed since we raised our children so you can think about stories from your own childhood, or that of your children, to tell your grandchildren.

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We wrote a report on “How to Leap the Generation Gap: 58 Reasons Child-Rearing Is Different Today” (I was 58 when I became a grandmother 🙂

Click here if you want the report.

To you and lighting your grandchildren’s way.

Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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