3 Things You Really Want To Know About Your Light Bulbs

7 Feb

1. By 2014, it will be illegal to manufacture (not buy) standard 40-, 60-. 75- and 100-watt bulbs

The Department of Energy passed new energy efficiency standards for “everyday” light bulbs to meet. The new standards are expected to save American households hundreds of dollars on their energy bill every year.

For as long as you can find them — Amazon.com is a good place to start if you’re on the hunt and your local hardware store is already out of stock — you can buy as many standard incandescent light bulbs as you like.

2. Energy efficient bulb technology is improving every day

We have come a long way from the first over-sized, institutional-light shedding CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb. CFLs are now available in smaller sizes, multiple light tones, 3-way and dimmable versions.

LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs are also making a big splash in the alternative light bulb space. They are easily dimmable and turn instantly, in contrast to CFLs, which often have a short delay before the light comes on — how dimmable “dimmable CFLs” really are has been a hot topic as well.

LEDs and CFLs still fall short in the tone of the light they give off — almost every review of these technologies notes that so far, the warm light of incandescence has not been matched by either LED or CFL, although they are getting better and better.

LED bulbs are leading the way in prettier bulbs and warmer light. The price for LED bulbs is higher than for CFLs, but that’s expected to drop rapidly over the next year and beyond as manufacturing technology improves. Even at $20 to $50 a bulb, one 60-watt LED replacement can save you more than $100 in energy costs  — and should last more than 20 years.

Check out these LED lights for replacements for your incandescent bulbs:

3. Blown CFL bulbs shouldn’t go in the trash

(image from “Take the CFL recycling challenge” on Mother Nature Network)

Because CFLs contain mercury, it’s best not to include them with your everyday household trash. In fact, some states, such asCalifornia,Maine,New Hampshire,Minnesota,Vermontand Massachussetts prohibit disposing of mercury-containing lamps in landfills.

Almost every component of a CFL bulb can be reused, so recycling the old bulbs not only keeps mercury from being released into the environment, it creates less waste overall.

If you don’t throw them in the trash can, where can you dispose of them? Many retailers, such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply and more will take blown CFLs off your hands. There are also mail-back programs from organizations like EcoLights, EverLights and BakPak Mail-Back Recycling.

For more information on — and resources for — disposing of your CFL bulbs, check out this page on the EPA site.



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