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The Light Bulb, Unlamented

William Opalka

BulbNo pity for the inefficient incandescent light bulb as it starts its eventual exit from the American landscape next month. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has posted a blog “All Systems Go.” It could just as easlily be called “it’s lumens, not watts.”

All of the major lighting companies, including GE, Philips and Sylvania, support the changes and have upgraded their supply chains to produce the energy-savings bulbs, NRSDC says. On January 1, the next chapter begins when the old, inefficient 40- and 60-watt bulbs, which represent over half the market, no longer can be manufactured or imported into the United States.

Consumers now have three major types of bulbs to choose from: new and improved incandescents that use 28 percent less energy, and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that provide energy savings of at least 75 percent and last a lot longer.

To be clear, incandescents are not disappearing at the first of the year — they’re just getting more efficient.

The new light bulbs use less power to give off the same amount of light. Therefore, consumers will no longer be buying bulbs simply based on their power, expressed in watts, and will shift toward buying  bulbs based on their light output, expressed in lumens. In the near term, manufacturers are including claims like “replaces 60W bulb” or “13 W = 60 W” for a 13-watt CFL that gives off as much light as the old 60-watt incandescent bulb.



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