Energy conservation is the way of the future, and the light bulb can make a major contribution to the needed changes that come along with it. The evolution of the light bulb will benefit both the consumer and the environment. The use of new energy-efficient technology, durability, lower voltage and lower wattage equate to consuming less resources and to less money spent on the energy bill. Longer lasting light bulbs also help decrease waste from less replacement and less disposal.
HOW to buy a light bulb in times of energy conservation
Newly enacted federal regulations will have the existing incandescent bulbs being phased out for more energy efficient options such as Halogen, CFL (compact fluorescent) and most recently the Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulb over the next three years. The first to go this year was the 100 watt incandescent light bulb, to be followed by the 75W in 2013, the 60W in 2014 etc. The core issue is that a light bulb, depending on its application, needs to produce a certain amount of light units (or Lumen) to serve its purpose. In times when the incandescent bulb was the only thing available, the amount of energy used to produce the desired amount of Lumen was expressed in Watts. For example: ambient lighting, which needs to produce a low to moderate amount of Lumen, uses 40w or 60W of electricity, whereas for task lighting, for which more Lumen is required , the consumer may use a 100W, 120W or even 150W to produce this level of lighting. One way to conserve electricity is by restricting the commercial availability of high Wattage incandescent bulbs, but that would mean that we would also have to live with lower levels of lighting, unless – and that is what these new technologies are all about – we find ways to produce more lumen for less used electricity. The new lighting laws require that light bulb manufacturers produce light bulbs that use no more than 72 Watts to produce the amount of Lumen traditionally produced by a 100W incandescent bulb. Light bulb manufacturers will also have to follow new packaging requirements that display the amount of Lumen the bulb produces rather than the amount of Watts that it consumes. This counteracts the consumer’s habitual tendency to look for high wattage bulbs where much light is needed.
Imagine the energy that could be saved if you could produce the same amount of Lumen from 20W versus 100W; that could cut a chunk out of the electricity bill! We haven’t reached that point yet, but it does appear to be on the horizon.
Besides Lumen, another factor to consider in purchasing a light bulb is the color of light it produces Light color is measured on a temperature scale and its unit of measure is a Kelvin. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale the warmer the color is, the higher the number the cooler the color gets. A typical incandescent bulb comes in at 2700K – 3000K and gives off a warm yellow light. To get a color that is more natural or like daylight it should be between 5000-6500k. So far, one of the downsides of the new crop of light bulbs is that they do not produce the same amount of Lumen or have the same level of kelvin as our beloved incandescent. Manufacturers are busy meeting these challenges and their efforts are reflected in the price.
LEDs Light (Light Emitting Diode) Bulbs reviewed:
The Panasonic LED Nostalgic Clear Type definitely lives up to its name. It has a close resemblance to an Edison filament bulb and is the top contender in my opinion for an attractive energy efficient bulb to replace a standard incandescent. It has an E27 base and can be used in any light fixture that uses the standard socket for Medium based light bulbs, produces 200 lumens ( low, unfortunately), and is expected to last 40,000 hours. The drawback? It is not dimmable and produces (rough estimate) the equivalent of light to a 25W incandescent, not much. While this light bulb is not yet in production, hopefully it will be soon! (This light bulb is listed on Panasonic’s UK website, so I do hope that it will become available in the U.S.)
Photo credit: Panasonic LED Nostalgic Clear Type – LDAHV4L27CG
Toshiba has a basic white model – the 450 series. This pretty much looks just like a white incandescent bulb with the addition of the cooling ribs. (LED bulbs produce more heat!) It gives it an interesting look without demanding too much attention visually. It has an output of 450 lumens (about a 40 watt on the old system), reaches full intensity immediately, and it is dimmable!
If you need a decorative flame tip bulb then this TCP brand bulb is for you. It uses a mere 3 watts and has an output of 100 Lumen. Supposed to last at least 25,000 hours and is mercury and lead free. This bulb should not be used however in a fixture where the bulb would be enclosed as it shortens the life of the bulb.
If a dimmable globe for a bathroom or vanity is what you need, then this bulb is for you! This bulb consumes 10 watts of power and is meant to replace the 40W incandescent bulb. It produces 420 lumens, 3000K, and is expected to last 25,000 hours. It also happens to cost $34.95. The price needs to be weighed against the long term savings on the electricity bill.
Plumen is the first to bring a designer bulb to the energy efficiency scene with the Plumen 001 by Hulger. In applications where the bulb takes center stage to the fixture this bulb could make a very interesting and efficient statement. For a mere 11 watts this bulb produces 680 lumen at 2700K and has a life expectancy of 8 years. The bad news is that it is not dimmable and runs $29.95. Still, this is a great snapshot of where the future could go with light bulbs.