Many of you already know about the apparent future of incandescent light bulbs in the United States. With the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, they will start being phased out starting in January 2012 to make way for more energy efficient CFLs and LEDs. While there will be exemptions such as light bulbs under 40 watts or more than 150 watts and several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, “rough service” bulbs, 3-way, colored lamps, and plant lights, our mainstay 60, 75 and 100w bulbs will begin to disappear. Saving energy is a very noble idea and replacing incandescent bulbs with other, more efficient types will certainly help achieve this goal, but the way the Act was conceived and written and, ultimately, signed into law, it has several deficiencies.

To start, many incandescent light bulbs are used with light dimmers – I have several in my home. Most times, these bulbs are not at full brightness, either for “mood” lighting or because the full lumens output just isn’t needed. I know that solid-state dimmers also use some power, but the combination of a dimmer with a less-than-maximum-output bulb uses less power than a non-dimmed bulb.

Another reason incandescent bulbs are used in many applications is the aesthetic value of the shape of the bulb, the color and translucency of the glass, and its receptacle. While not contributing to energy efficiency, attractive specialty bulbs do add to the look of their surroundings, a fact that my decorator wife often brings up. Unfortunately, CFLs and LEDs often do not fit into existing light fixtures, especially some of the fancy lamps and wall sconces.

While ultra-bright LED lighting technology is still evolving, CFLs are now considered a mature lighting product. Much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, CFLs have two problems – they are not easily dimmed and they contain mercury vapor, which requires special disposal methods for old CFLs and special clean-up for broken bulbs. Clean-up instructions for a broken CFL are relatively elaborate, including airing out the room in which the bulb was broken after people and pets have left, shutting down circulating air systems during the airing-out period, and placing the materials gathered during cleanup in a sealable container for proper disposal. The available dimming controls for CFLs and LEDs are also considerably more expensive than their incandescent dimming counterparts (two-to-three times higher).

Finally, while a national act to conserve energy through control of lighting technology is laudable, there is the ever-present issue of how much the federal government should interfere with a state’s rights to control what transpires within its boundaries as it affects a consumer’s purchase and use of products.

So – a national “which light bulb to use” policy is on its way. Be prepared to pay more for the bulbs and lighting controls and be a little less satisfied with the results. Who knows – incandescent bulbs might be the “in” holiday gift this year.

Posted by admin, filed under Uncategorized. Date: November 29, 2011, 6:38 pm | 6 Comments »