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Shining Some Light On The Death Of Incandescent Bulbs

Topics: Clean & Green | Add A CommentBy admin | December 17, 2010

Is the plan to do away with incandescent bulbs part of a vast energy industry conspiracy? Probably not. But that sounds a lot more interesting than “hey, get ready to change your lightbulbs in a couple years”.

The future’s looking bright, but at a
price. 33 bucks, to be more specific.

It’s kind of interesting that many of us are not aware that there’s a massive plan underway to do away with the incandescent bulb by 2014. I say “most of us” because I’m not aware, and I say “massive plan” because there are an estimated 3 billion to 4 billion screw-in sockets in the US, accounting for about 10 percent of all US electricity consumption. According to the SYLVANIA Socket Survey, only 36 percent of Americans are aware of the planned phase out, which was legislated by the federal government in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. So what are we switching to? This Washington Post item provides a nice summary. The three main options are LED’s (only 33 bucks per bulb on Amazon!), Halogen bulbs, and CFL’s (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). CFL’s are those wormy-looking things that you’re probably already familiar with, and will probably be the most common replacement at first, due to their lower cost and higher efficiency amongst the three options. They’re not cheap though; while we may be reducing energy consumption, even these bulbs typically cost about six times as much as a conventional bulb. This is theoretically offset by the fact that the CFL’s will last five years instead of just a few months, but it’s hard to imagine how an industry this large would take a change in revenue stream like this sitting down, so look for elaborate planned obsolescence schemes or even higher prices down the road. I jest a bit of course, but consumers have genuine concerns about other issues, like the toxicity of substances like Mercury that are used in the bulbs, and the difference in the color value of the light they produce. US News answers some of these commonly asked questions here.