Goodbye To Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs – those energy hogs that Edison desined and bestowed upon us in 1879 – are finally starting to disappear from U.S. store shelves.  That means you can realize a reduced carbon footprint with smarter light bulb choices.CFL lightbulb (2)

For more than a century, these old-fashioned bulbs were the only lighting choice available…aside from romantic candles, soot-spewing kerosene lamps and natural sunlight. But thankfully, gains in energy efficiency became more of a national priority, and we have seen a greater push to build fewer electricity-generating plants despite the burgeoning U.S demand for power.

The last Bush administration wisely stepped in to ensure that incandescent light bulbs will soon only be found displayed in museums, where they belong with all the other outdated gadgets that have been replaced with better, quicker and more efficient alternatives.

Countries With Bans – Frankly, the transition to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) should have happened 10 years ago in the U.S.. Other countries have been banning these bulbs for a few years now. In fact, most of the other leading economies are “light” years ahead of the U.S. bulb phase-out. Brazil and Venezuela started in 2005; the European Union, Switzerland and Australia began in 2009; Russia and Canada will start in 2012; and Malaysia is set to begin in 2014.  Ordinary citizens in these countries will have reduced carbon footprints through every day purchase options.

Energy Independence and Security Act – In December 2007, Congress took a major step and passed the Energy Independence and Security Act. 

The efficiency standard phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By that time, most varieties of incandescent light bulbs will be history. 

Even without this forced changeover, both CFLs and LEDs (light omitting diodes) are the best way to reduce your everyday carbon footprint. Switching out the bulbs in one room or on an entire floor of your house is easy enough to do. 

Better yet, it will have a long-lasting positive impact on the reduction of your carbon footprint and the CO2 that’s kicked out into the atmosphere. Many Americans have no idea about the upcoming ban on bulbs or the product phase-out from store shelves. Between now and January 2012, the news will be full of stories about how consumers are hoarding the last few “traditional” bulbs still in stores.

As other countries have phased out these bulbs, die-hard, non-progressive consumers have hoarded all available local supplies. Contrary to urban myth, the light quality of CFLs has greatly improved over the last few years, and LED bulb prices have started to drop. Because of these advancements, these more energy-efficient, better-quality options will meet less consumer resistance than what was experienced in other countries when similar bans were implemented over the last few years.

Green Tips About Bulbs: A Quick Comparison

CFLs Those twisty, pigtail bulbs are now often encased in glass globes to look more like what we expect a bulb to look like. The current generation of these bulbs is more cost- and energy-efficient. The high risk of mercury content is an urban myth (see the Green Blizzard article about Mercury in CFLs). Incandescent bulbs are actually responsible for more mercury emissions due to much higher energy consumption and the polluting gases emitted by the power plants that feed those energy hogs. CFLs last longer, produce more light per watt, emit 90 percent less heat and use 75-80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They can be purchased practically anywhere and don’t require special disposal.

LEDs – These semi-conductor electronic lights generate no heat, last for 10-20 years and consume only 5-15 percent of the energy of one of the old incandescent clunkers. They require a little more investment upfront, but once they’re  installed, you can forget about them for what will seem like forever. This is the best way you can lower your carbon footprint.

The Bottom Line:  Switch Out Those Clunkers Now

Here’s our Green Blizzard Green Tip – By making the switch today, you will soon realize significant cost savings through lower energy bills and less frequent replacements. Go ahead and update the bulbs in your home and office, and give yourself a pat on the back for reducing your carbon footprint and lowering your CO2 output.

Be sure to check out our green lifestyle store Green Blizzard Store. Check out these related Green Blizzard articles: Seafood Watch, Are We Eating Fish Into Extinction, Carbon Impact of Meats, Local Produce, Sun Tea, or Growing Basil.

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About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.