The pros and cons of energy-efficient light bulbs have been much debated over the last decade. The main focus of the discussion has been CFL light bulbs. Introduced in the ’80s, these electricity sippers have been greatly improved over the years. CFL light bulbs are enthusiastically endorsed by the Energy Star program and are the most popular green light bulbs among consumers, businesses and even public institutions looking to reduce lighting costs and shrink their carbon footprint.
Among the various energy-efficient light bulbs, CFL light bulbs have notable drawbacks when compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, their higher purchase price, slower start-up time and inferior dimmability among them. CFLs also contain a small amount of mercury and must be recycled at the end of their life. On the plus side, these energy-efficient light bulbs pay for themselves in energy savings quickly when used for three or more hours per day. The best CFL light bulbs also cast a flattering light, much better than when they were first offered. CFLs are a solid choice for consumers seeking more eco-friendly lighting, but there’s a new option to consider.
A Legislative and Regulatory Foundation for Energy Efficiency: More than Just CFL Light Bulbs
Legislation passed by the U.S. government in 2007 mandates efficiency gains for commonly-used light bulbs by January 2014. Starting in 2012 with higher wattages, light bulbs must be about 30% more energy efficient than current standards require. While CFL light bulbs meet this challenge, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) doesn’t favor any specific technology. The broad standards have created opportunities for leading lighting manufacturers, such as Philips and General Electric, that are committed to developing innovative energy-efficient light bulbs which address a wider range of lighting applications than CFL light bulbs alone.
While the 2007 EISA covered general use bulbs, new rules for the improved energy efficiency of so-called PAR (Parabolic Aluminized Reflector) lamps (commonly used in residential and commercial downlighting applications) were issued in June by the U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu. These regulations are expected to go into effect in the second half of 2012. Consumers will see some exciting changes as manufacturers strive to increase the efficiency of these green light bulbs to meet the new standards. For lower wattage lamps, i.e. those of less than 100 watts, the 2012 standards will drive efficiency up by 24% to 87% depending on bulb diameter, wattage and voltage. This mandate is also technologically neutral, leaving manufacturers free to unleash their ingenuity in designing the energy-efficient light bulbs they wish to produce and make available to the U.S. market.
High-Efficiency Halogen Lamps – A Clear Choice in Green Light Bulbs
Lamp manufacturers have been aware of consumer dissatisfaction with CFL light bulbs and have actively participated in recent legislative and regulatory processes aimed at arresting the pace of climate change due to lighting-related greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, proactive lighting companies have been investing resources in R&D to ensure compliance with forthcoming laws and regulations while giving individual and business consumers a wider choice of energy-efficient light bulbs.
As a result, right now, almost three years ahead of schedule, screw-in high efficiency halogen lamps are on the market. These energy-efficient light bulbs have several advantages over CFL light bulbs:
Instant-on technology Sparkling white light: not blue, not butterscotch, just crisp and clear Superior dimmability (and because they’re in the incandescent family, extended lifespan when dimmed) Compatible with motion control sensors Stable light output: will fire regardless of ambient temperature Suitable for use in fully-enclosed fixtures 100% Mercury-free
What makes these energy-efficient light bulbs greener than the traditional bulbs being phased out?
High-efficiency halogens use less electricity to produce the same amount of light.
Example 1: Philips offers a 70 watt general-purpose bulb, which is equivalent to a 100 watt standard incandescent. That’s 30% more energy efficient and nearly 10% more efficient than required by EISA by January 1, 2012.
High efficiency halogens last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Example 2: GE’s 48 watt PAR30 bulb (itself 20% more energy efficient than the applicable DOE 2012 rules for incandescent reflectors) has a 4,200 hour average rated life, 40% longer than the 75 watt halogen lamp it is designed to replace.
Extra life translates into more time to realize financial and carbon emissions savings.
For consumers, business owners and public institutions committed to reducing energy consumption through simple changes in lighting choices, there are energy-efficient light bulbs for every need. Innovative new products are already here with more being introduced all the time.