Bulb basics

Traditional incandescent pear-shaped light bulbs can no longer be produced, so unless you plan to buy out the stores and stockpile, here's a quick primer on your energy-efficient choices.
Marie Havenga
Jan 10, 2014

*Energy-efficient incandescents, also known as halogen or eco bulbs, offer about 25 percent energy savings and last three times longer than traditional bulbs.

They are available in a wide variety of shapes and colors, and are compatible with dimmer switches.

*CFLs offer about 75 percent energy savings over traditional bulbs and are simply curly versions of those long fluorescent tubes. The U.S. Department of Energy said they pay for themselves in about nine months and last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.

Some people dislike that it takes a while for them to come to full power. They are available in a range of light colors (white to yellow), a feature not available when they were first introduced.

Some CFL bulbs, but not all, work with dimmers. Check the packaging carefully to determine compatibility.

CFL bulbs contain mercury and cannot be thrown in the trash. Many retailers will recycle them for you.

*LED (light emitting diode) lighting features semiconductors that convert electricity into light.

They use only 20 to 25 percent of the energy of traditional bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.

They are expensive, $25 to $50 per light, but given their lifespans, the average annual cost is on par with other choices.



Perhaps one of the most long-range, forward-thinking actions on the part of President Bush was to sign into law The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The governments of nearly every developed country around the world have adopted similar legislation. The energy savings from just one CFL or LED light bulb is beyond significant.

When all factors are considered - wattage, price per bulb, projected lifespan - cost comparisons for 50k hours look like this:

LED: $85.75
CFL: $89.75
Incandescent: $352.50


Incandescents represent the last centuries' issues, technologies, and economic drivers. The Third Industrial Revolution is upon us, where, along with the Internet, renewable energies will be the defining technology of the 21st century, transforming not only our energy sources, but the US and global economies.

Those interested, check out the book: 'The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World', Jeremy Rifkin.

Those who believe the light bulb legislation is just more trivial and unnecessary government meddling might want to rethink their positions.


I agree that we definitely need to work towards more efficient lifestyles, including LED's, but read my comment in the other article today about CFL's and LED's. The current generation of these light units have serious flaws.

They never live up to the claims, but manufacturers can get away with the claims since the light-emitting diode actually will live up to its rated lifespan if it is not over-driven. The problem is, the rest of the components (the power supply) do not live up to the task and generally fail after about 1,500 hours.


I don't think these last any longer. We moved into a home that was 2 years old and one has already gone out and had to be replaced.

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