Light Bulbs Set To Be More Efficient Come 2014

Six years ago, President Bush signed a federal energy bill phasing out energy-wasting light bulbs on a staggered schedule to ensure a smooth and successful transition to more efficient bulbs – and eventually save Americans $13 billion on their annual energy bills. All of the major lighting companies, including GE, Philips and Sylvania, support the changes and have upgraded their supply chains to produce the energy-savings bulbs. On January 1, the next chapter begins when the old, inefficient 40- and 60-watt bulbs, which represent over half the market, no longer can be manufactured or imported into the United States. 

This follows the recently completed transitions from the old 100- and 75-watt incandescent bulbs over the past two years, a process that unfolded very smoothly because there are so many better-performing options available. Consumers now have three major types of bulbs to choose from: new and improved incandescents that use 28% less energy, and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that provide energy savings of at least 75% and last a lot longer. (You can see the internal workings of the LED bulb to the right that only needs 9.5 watts to produce the same amount of light as an old 60-watt bulb.)

In fact, these standards requiring improved efficiency have led to more lighting innovation over the past five years than we saw during the 100-plus years since Edison invented the light bulb!

To be clear, incandescents are not disappearing at the first of the year — they’re just getting more efficient.

CFL bulb

image via Shutterstock

And technological advances — like the GE 43W bulb below that replaces the 60-watt incandescent — have already saved homeowners and businesses billions of dollars on their energy bills. The new standards eventually will save as much electricity as is generated by 30 large coal-burning power plants – and the associated pollution that harms our health and contributes to climate change – every single year.

At the same time, the standards have created new jobs manufacturing efficient lighting in the United States, which helps boost our economy.

LUMENS, NOT WATTS

The new light bulbs use less power to give off the same amount of light. Therefore, consumers will no longer be buying bulbs simply based on their power, expressed in watts, and will shift toward buying  bulbs based on their light output, expressed in lumens. In the near term, manufacturers are including claims like “replaces 60W bulb” or “13 W = 60 W” for a 13-watt CFL that gives off as much light as the old 60-watt incandescent bulb.

The chart from NRDC’s light bulb buying guide below provides an easy way for consumers to choose the bulb with the amount of light they are seeking. For example, the new incandescents, sometimes referred to as halogen incandescents, that replace the old 60-watt bulbs, only use 43 watts.

NRDC_lighting_handout_chart_logo.jpg

BULB SHOPPING TIPS

Some other things to know when shopping for a new light bulb:

  • Not all CFLs and LEDs are created equally. To ensure you are getting a good one, only buy those that have the ENERGY STAR® label. These not only save you energy but will also perform well over time.
  • CFLs and LEDs last 10 to 25 times longer, respectively. Even though they might cost more to buy, they will save lots of money over their lifetime as well as prevent the need to replace each of your light bulbs every year.
  • Light bulbs come in different flavors. If you want the light to look just like it did with your old incandescent, buy one that says “warm white.” Those that say “daylight” or “cool white” will have a much whiter, almost bluish white light, which many consumers may not like.
  • If you want a dimmable bulb, buy a LED or incandescent bulb.

Bottom line, our nation’s switch toward more efficient light bulbs is well under way and the shift from the 40- and 60-watt bulbs should go without a hitch. The manufacturers and retailers have really stepped up to the plate and we now have a great energy-savings bulb on the shelf ready for every socket in your home.

nrdcEditor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council. Author credit goes to Noah Horowitz.

NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.

    • David Lynn Courtney

      I can not believe America is going ahead with this. The light bulbs do save money their is no denying that. The main point is obviously being missed. These CFl light bulbs are causing serious health effects. These bulbs contain a fine mercury dust. When these bulbs break inside your house some of the mercury is released into the air. If you fail to have an air purifying system the mercury can remain inside the house indefinitely. Mercury causes serious health problems for people immediately but the worst problem is it has the power to alter our and our children’s DNA!

      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/

      Come on America do you really want these light bulbs in every home?

      In Canada and many other countries around the world have put a hold on legislation that would force people to use these bulbs.

      LED lights have been proven to affect our eye sight. Especially the blue spectrum which can cause permanent blindness.

      So that is the choice your government is asking you to make? Do you really believe they have thought this through?

      • John

        It’s CFL light bulbs, not CFI. And I would know, I used to run a massive illegal grow operation years back. I spent 12-14 hours per day under powerful CFL lights. No ill effects here.

        • David Lynn Courtney

          Sorry John missed the capital “L”.

    • UKGary

      David, not all LED lamps give off large quantities of blue light, and those that do give off far less than the sun on a bright day. Circadian rhythms are well documented as being affected by artificial light most especially at the blue end of the spectrum with associated health effects, however the blinding effects you refer to apply as far as I can tell to UV light not to blue visible light, hence LED lamps do not present this risk (with the exception of a few specialist UV LED lamps used in industry or for water sterilisation). Incidentally, halogens and fluorescent lamps do generate UV, in the latter case sometimes in significant quantities.

      In regards to compact fluorescent, I am with you – there are real health risks there associated with mercury, and they should also be phased out