Changing The Lightbulbs
Starting in January 2012, 100-watt (W) incandescent bulbs–a technology developed in the United States by Thomas Edison in 1878 and largely untouched since–must become more energy efficient.
Why is the government shining a light on lighting?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates we use 13.6 percent of our nation’s energy supply to keep the lights on, and a lot of that power is wasted. If you’ve ever touched a traditional lightbulb when it’s on, you realized much of the energy (90 percent) is released as heat. This leaves a lot of room for improvement.
To tackle this issue, in 2007 the Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law, the Energy Independence and Security Act one component of which requires that light bulb producers increase efficiency by roughly 25 percent by 2014.
By 2014 household lightbulbs using between 40-W to 100-W will need consume at least 28 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, saving Americans an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion in lighting costs annually. The law also mandates lightbulbs become 70 percent more efficient than classic bulbs by 2020 (some bulbs already exceed this goal).
How does this affect my electric bills?
The average home spends 11 percent of its electric bill for lighting, schools, stores, and businesses use about 38 percent of their electricity for lighting. By reducing the amount of electricity we must purchase or generate, we may potentially delay the need to build new power plants or buy expensive electric power on the open market. By using less power each time you flip the light switch you can help keep your power bill affordable.
Is this a Bulb Ban?
Contrary to popular belief, the federal Energy Information and Security Act of 2007 does not ban incandescent bulb technology; it requires bulbs use less energy.
This does not mean that consumers will be unable to buy incandescent light bulbs or that they must purchase compact florescent (CFL) bulbs. Stores will not remove tried-and true incandescent bulbs from shelves come New Year’s Day. Current inventory will still be available for sale until exhausted. And the improved efficiency requirements only apply to screw-based lightbulbs; specialty bulbs for appliances, heavy-duty bulbs, colored lights, and three-way bulbs are exempt.
How do I buy lightbulbs now?
Manufacturers have responded to the law by increasing research and development and speeding new products to market. In fact we now have more lighting options than at any time in the past.
Such a massive product change means consumers must switch from thinking about lightbulbs in terms of watts (amount of energy used) to lumens (amount of light produced).
The consumer-focused Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has designed a “Lighting Facts” label and shopping guide that compares a bulb being purchased with traditional incandescent lightbulbs based on wattages and equivalent lumens. Beginning in 2012, labels on the front and back of lightbulb packages will emphasize a bulb’s brightness in lumens, annual energy cost, and expected lifespan.
What are my options?
Residential bulbs will largely fit in three categories, each stacking up a bit differently:
Use 25 percent less energy, last three times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.
For consumers comfortable with their old incandescent bulbs, halogen incandescents will be an easy first-step. This new generation of incandescent include a capsule of halogen gas around the bulb’s filament. They’re available in a variety of familiar colors and can be dimmed.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs):
Use 75 percent less energy, last up to 10 times longer.
CFLs are the most familiar options on the market today and the most economical. The technology operates the same as fluorescent lighting in offices or the kitchen. The bulbs are now available in a wide array of colors and some can be dimmed. Always check the package to make sure a bulb meets your needs. As with all fluorescent bulbs, each CFL contains a small amount of mercury (five times less than a watch battery) and should be recycled. Many retailers offer free CFL recycling; visit www.epa.gov/cfl for details.
Use between 75 percent and 80 percent less energy, last up to 25 times longer.
LED technology is still advancing. Currently, LEDs are more expensive than other options–a replacement for a 60-W incandescent bulb costs between $30 and $60–but LED costs will fall as manufacturers respond to growing consumer demand. LEDS have to stay cool to operate efficiently, and when several bulbs are placed together for a brighter, more consumer-friendly light, lifespan decreases. However, many manufacturers are accounting for this by adding cooling elements to LED bulbs. Some bulbs feature a spine design to allow air to flow around the base; other models have fans built into the ballast.
Can You See a Difference?
Lighting technologies are advancing rapidly. Manufacturers are developing more options for consumers who like the feel of the classic bulb when it comes to the color of the light, how it is dispersed and the shape of bulbs.
The difference will be found on your monthly electric bill–more efficient bulbs use between 25 and 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last much longer. The U.S. Department of Energy claims each household can save $50 a year by replacing 15 traditional incandescent bulbs.
Where can I learn more?
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Cooperative Research Network, LUMEN Coalition, GE, Sylvania, Philips
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
Free compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) brought Cuivre River members to the office by the dozens, as they embraced a new cooperative effort for energy efficiency called "Take Control & Save".
The Take Control & Save initiative's primary objective: reduce energy waste and optimize power generating capacity. This challenges us, as consumers, to change the way we consume energy — especially at times of peak demand.
CFLs offer one of the quickest and easiest ways to save energy right away. These advanced light sources are much more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs and last much longer, saving enough energy during their long lifetimes to more than make up for their higher initial cost. In fact, according to the U. S. Department of Energy, if you replace 25% of your lights in high-use areas with CFLs, it can save you about 67% of your lighting energy bill.
*Cuivre River members have received 6,000 compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) 3-packs to date. The 18,000 individual CFLs will produce a yearly savings of $79,560.00 and a lifetime savings of $717,840.00 for our members who picked up their free CFLs.