Did you know that the Federal government is starting to phase out the old fashioned incandescent light bulbs beginning next year? As of January 1st you will no longer be able to buy 100 W incandescent light bulbs. Hasbro’s “Easy Bake Oven” that we all remember baking with as kids even had to be re-designed to bake without the use of a 100 W bulb. By January 1, 2014 the only incandescent light bulbs left on the market will be three way bulbs and some appliance bulbs.
Incandescent bulbs are being replaced by CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lights. As many of you may already know, CFLs use about 75% less energy than the traditional incandescent lights, according to industry sources. CFLs cost 3 to 4 times more than a traditional light bulb, but can last up to 10 times longer.
Some things you might not know about CFLs are:
- They work best if left on for over 15 minutes.
- Turning light fixtures on and off can shorten the life of the bulb.
- It is not recommended to put them in vibrating environments such as ceiling fans. Vibrations may cause the electronics to fail.
- Putting a standard CFL bulb on a dimmer switch shortens the bulbs life and voids the warranty. Look for CFL bulbs that are approved for dimmer switch locations.
- Heat, cold and humidity can also shorten their life.
- CFLs contain a small amount of Mercury in the tubes, which is a toxic metal (although less than you would find in a wristwatch battery). The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends consumers bring old CFLs to qualified recyclers. They also recommend following their procedure for mercury spill cleanup if a bulb breaks. Their procedures are available at www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/.
For the environmentally friendly crowd you have another choice, LEDs. LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes do not have any of the downsides of the CFLs. They last about five times longer than a CFL (10 to 25 years). The only down side is the cost, about $30.00 apiece. Prices for LEDs are expected to drop about 15-20% per year as technology advances making them a more competitive option.
If you like your old incandescent light bulbs or just don’t like the idea of the government telling you what you can and/or can’t use, I recommend you run out to the store and stock up on them like Ben Stein is doing. Who knows, someday soon incandescent light bulbs may cost more than LEDs.