InCAN’Tdescent: Out like a Light

April 02, 2013

Light Bulb LawsAs many of you may have noticed, the light bulb aisle in the super market is looking a little different these days. This is because the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed in 2007, placed a literal shelf-life on the traditional, pear-shaped, incandescent bulbs we’re used to seeing. The act was created to both limit energy consumption and make the United States less dependent on foreign oil. What do incandescent bulbs have to do with energy consumption and why should you care? Allow me to shed some light on the situation.

Incandescent bulbs use energy inefficiently at a rate of 10 percent. Basically, these bulbs use 10 percent of the energy it takes to light them to actually provide the light you see, and the other 90 percent is just turned into heat. (i.e. one employee working while the other nine just sunbathe all day.) To stick with the work day analogy, the new federal law is like a new human resources department that is coming in and cleaning house. It requires 25 percent more efficiency from light bulbs, and only affects the bulbs with 40, 60, 75, 100 watts.

This does not mean you have to immediately toss out your lamps or switch to all fluorescent overhead lighting. Manufacturers have come up with an affordable alternative:  halogen incandescent bulbs. These are essentially the same bulbs, but with added halogen. Yes, they are brighter and whiter, but they work with dimmers for a warmer, softer ambient light.

There are also compact fluorescent bulbs. These are the waterslide looking bulbs you’ve seen, but probably felt silly purchasing. However, to make them more appealing, they now come with covers that make them look like a standard bulb for those ceiling fans where the bulb is visible or those lamps where the top of the bulbs peaks over the shade.

Finally, there are LED lights. These are highly efficient, but also a little more expensive. What they lack in cost-appeal though, they make up for in energy savings. These, too, have been developed to have yellow finishes over the top of them, so that the light is not too harsh.

If you’re still feeling pretty dim, don’t fret. Every new light bulb will be outfitted with a lighting facts label to help you out. It’s pretty much the same as thing as the nutrition labels we see on food items. The label will include the color of light the bulb will emit, efficiency, watts, lumens, etc… Ah, a light at the end of tunnel!

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