New Year brings a new way for residents to light their homes
With the arrival of the new year American consumers can bid farewell to Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb. As ordered by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, U.S. manufacturing and importing of standard incandescent bulbs ended as of January. Americans now must prepare to fill light sockets with energy-efficient alternatives, such as LED bulbs (light emitting diode), CFL bulbs (compact florescent lamp) or halogen bulbs.
LED bulbs are known to be more expensive than incandescents, but according to Westlake Hardware personnel, LED bulbs last longer and save households an average of $143 (over the 20 year life of the bulb) in energy costs. Unlike incandescents, LED bulbs have no warm up time and contain no mercury.
CFL bulbs are generally less expensive than LEDs and also use less energy than incandescents, but require time to warm up. CFLs also contain small amounts of mercury, making recycling of these bulbs environmentally necessary.
Halogen bulbs are incandescents with small amounts of halogen added. Halogen gas combined with a tungsten filament produces a chemical reaction that redeposits evaporated tungsten back into the filament, increasing life and clarity.
Ameren Missouri representative Cara Dolly has mostly CFLs in her home, though she will consider switching to LEDs when the need arises. She is pleased that legislation is making an effort to increase energy efficiency. "Edison's incandescent bulb produces 10 percent light and 90 percent heat. New technology produces light without the heat. Every time an (energy-efficient) light is turned on 30 percent less energy is used, compared to incandescents," Dolly said.
The phase out began in 2012 with the end of 100-watt and 75-watt incandescent bulb manufacturing. With 2014 the phase comes to include 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs as well.
Stores are allowed to sell incandescents while the bulbs remain in stock. Though Westlake Hardware is encouraging consumers to try LED bulbs if they haven't done so, the Mexico store has strong inventories of the ACE 60W 4 pack and the GE A19 Frost 60W 4 pack CFL bulbs.
The store has GE and Feit LED bulbs available. Manager Robby Robinson said, "A general purpose 60 watt output LED runs on only 10 watts of energy, has an estimated life span of 25,000 hours and uses a standard screw-in base. At Westlake, we are continuing to increase our shelf space devoted to the LED innovative lighting. That said, the CFL is still a favorite with the consumer. At your local Westlake store, you will find a considerable amount of shelf space devoted to the CFL lighting, from a variety of manufacturers."
Canada and Europe has also banned the manufacturing and importing of incandescent bulbs. According to The Washington Times, Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research reported that when Europe banned incandescents art galleries and restaurants complained the art didn't "look right" and that CFL and LED lighting "isn't romantic."
Incandescent-partial consumers, likely to be stockpiling while supplies last, have reportedly complained of headaches due to LEDs' whiter color.
Dolly recommends that consumers pay attention to how bright bulbs are, whether CFL or LED, when concerning color and intensity. Softer light is produced by cooler temperature bulbs. This softer light is most like that of incandescent bulbs, though too warm of light can make reading difficult for seniors. Higher temperature bulbs will produce a brighter white light, which is good for reading or detailed activities like applying make up. It is best to check packages to determine light color and brightness to meet individual needs.
Dolly promotes Energy Star bulbs, due to their manufacturer's warranty and encourages consumers to save their receipts. Ameren Missouri is offering instant rebates for energy-efficient purchases through the Act On Energy LightSavers program. Rebate information can be found at actonengergy.com.