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CFL & LED bulbs

Acronyms in the lighting universe are now adding pages to the dictionary.  To GE, add CFL and LED.

Like the great buffalo that once roamed the great plains in massive numbers, the 40-, 60- and 75-watt incandescent bulbs will disappear, becoming extinct, in a cross-country football stadium style wave that by 2014.

The all familiar 100-watt incandescent bulb is being phased out this year in California in favor of the energy-saving alternatives, CFL and LED.

“Consumers have more choices than ever before,”said Stephanie J. Anderson, of Sylvania, “We’ve seen more changes in lighting technology in the past years than we’ve seen in the last 100 years.”

America’s top light bulb retailers, Lowes & Home Depot, sell millions upon millions of bulbs every year. The 60-watt incandescent four-pack is their best seller.  Each retailer stocks more than 400 to 500 different types of bulbs.

Demand is rising for the new CFL and LED bulbs, bringing prices down.

Bulb manufacturers have made light bulbs for over 100 years, which were the brainchild of Thomas Edison.  Osram, Sylvania, GE, Sanyo, Philips, Hubbel are all having to re-tool and adapt to the changing demand environment for the new CFL and LED bulbs.

It’s one of the only industries where the No. 1 seller today was the No. 1 seller 100 years ago, until the last three years. Then, at the speed of light, it went from not a lot of innovation to leap frog style innovation.  Manufacturers are being forced to innvoate with much more efficient alternatives.

But with innovation and change equalling big savings in energy and dollars, both hot topics in today’s lagging national economy.

People are showing up in droves to energy savings workshops hosted by national retailer.  There is serious interest in new ways for people to save the almighty dollar.

Incandescent lights are the most inefficient item in the average home.

The simplest and most cost effective method of energy retrofits is switching from incandescent to the CFL & LED more efficient bulbs.  The protocol as simple as screwing in a energy efficient light bulb.

To encourage homeowners to switch, the US DOE has teamed with States and Municpalities, to encourage the use of tax credits and other incentives for the conversion from the old style bulbs to the more efficient CFLs and LEDs.

The CFL bulbs last an average home user between 5 to 7 years.  The payback in energy savings can quickly be recaptured in 1 to 3 years.

To put it in perspective, an incandescent cost $.25 cents a bulb, but $7 to operate” over their lifetime, while a CFL costs $1.50, and $1.50 to operate, and they last a longer.

Lighting accounts for 20 percent of household energy.

Currently LED will provide more than 30,000 to 50,000 hours of use. In a typical home, that means it will last about 30 to 50 years while consuming 85 percent less electricity than the old style incandescent bulb.

LEDs offer the greatest efficiency and extremely long life – often decades. LEDs are expensive, averaging $25 a bulb for most brands. Prices are plummeting as demand goes up.  Over the past year, LEDs have dropped 25%.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, have made the greatest strides in fitting new technology to old fixtures.  In the early years of the LEDs it was easier to manufacturer LEDs in definitive colors: red, blue, yellow, with white ones being really expensive.

But with innovation, the technology improved on the blue LEDs, which tweaked were able to create a white LED. These bulbs don’t get hot, nor will they won’t shatter. The light comes on instantly, and most of the LED product is recyclable. LEDs can be used in many ways traditional bulbs cannot.

LED lighting is no longer associated with key-chain flashlights.  Instead they have progressed to multitude of uses.

The downside with CFLs is that they contain mercury. The standard CFL’s mercury content equals the amount in a standard thermometer. New CFL designs contain less, about 1 milligram of mercury.  The mercury presence requires the burned-out CFLs be treated as toxic waste. If broken, they should be disposed of in a sealed plastic bag.

LEDs contain no mercury.

So when your next incadescent bulb burns out, select on of the new CFL or LED bulbs and watch the savings on your electric bill and in your back account.

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