incandescent light bulb will be phased off the U.S. market
beginning in 2012 under a new energy law approved by Congress
they taking my light bulbs away?
. Households will save money because of lower utility bills. Ninety
percent of the energy that an
incandescent light bulb burns is wasted as heat. And yet, sales of the
most common high-
efficiency bulb available—the compact fluorescent (CFL)—amount to only 5
percent of the
light bulb market. The changeover is not mandated to begin until 2012 and
phased out through
2014. However, don't be surprised if some manufacturers phase out
earlier. Moving to more
efficient lighting is one of the lowest-cost ways for the nation to
reduce electricity use and
How do I save money, when a CFL costs six times as much as
an old-fashioned bulb?
CFL's costs about $3, compared with 50 cents for a standard bulb. But a
CFL uses about 75
percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months. A
household that invested
$90 in changing 30 fixtures to CFLs would save $440 to $1,500 over the
five-year life of the
bulbs, depending on your cost of electricity.
I've heard that CFLs don't really last as long as they
All CFLs that carry the government's Energy Star label are required to
carry a two-year limited
warranty, so contact the manufacturer if your bulb burns out prematurely.
The Energy Star
website has a good FAQ on CFLs.
I don't think that I like the color of the light from CFLs.
When they first hit the market, CFLs had a limited range of tones. Now,
manufacturers offer a
wider variety, but there is not an agreed-upon labeling standard. The
Energy Star program is
working to change that.
I've heard that CFLs have mercury in them—isn't that bad?
Even though the amount sealed in each bulb is small—one old-fashioned
about 100 times as much mercury—contact local trash collection for
Environmentalists agree that more work must be done on bulb recycling
programs. Right now,
you can return any CFL to any Ikea store for recycling...
But if you break a CFL, you'll have a toxic spill in your
The bulbs must be handled with caution. Using a drop cloth might be a
good new routine to
develop when screwing in a light bulb, to make the clean-up of any breaks
And don't think that incandescent bulbs are mercury free. In the United
States, the chances
are at least 50 percent that their light is generated by a coal-powered
plant featuring mercury
as well as other types of pollution. Popular Mechanics recently crunched
the numbers to find
that even if the mercury in a CFL was directly released into the
atmosphere, an incandescent
would still contribute almost double that amount of mercury into the
environment over its
Isn't there efficient lighting without mercury?
Yes. By 2012, the chances are good that consumers will have many more
options to replace
(FAQ: The End of
the Light Bulb as We Know It, MARIANNE LAVELLE, US News)
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