Incandescent light bulbs have been a primary source of lighting in homes for many years. However, as technology makes leaps and bounds, and environmental damage is cause for many household products to be held under a microscope, we are seeing more and more disadvantages resulting from the use of these bulbs. In this article, we will take a look at the downsides of using incandescent light bulbs and offer some alternate solutions.
Cons of Incandescent Light Bulbs
High Cost: Although the purchase price of incandescent light bulbs may not be high, buying them will result in you spending more money over time. Research shows that if you switch out your incandescents with other bulbs, like CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) you can save $180 in power annually. Also, because a CFL can last more than 13 times longer than an incandescent, you can end up saving up to $12.86 on your purchase.
Environmental Damage: Incandescent bulbs use more energy to run than other bulbs. This use of energy results in higher electricity bills as well as an increased amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere (unless your electricity is acquired exclusively from renewable sources). Using bulbs that require less energy will keep your utility bill lower and the environment cleaner.
Lighting Color: The color a light bulb emits can vary depending what type of bulb you are purchasing. The color emitted is dependent on the color temperature of the light. Incandescents are on the low end of the color temperature scale and therefore emit an orangey glow. CFL’s and LED’s are higher on the color temperature scale and can emit a wider range of color so an orange tint is possible, but light is typically bluer and clearer. Full spectrum CFL’s provide a light that is closer to sunlight, a high, full spectrum of light that’s ideal for sewing or reading.
The Energy Independence and Security Act
The research done on incandescent bulbs has resulted in the “Energy Independence and Security Act” which was put into effect in 2007. This act has set energy efficient standards that the production of incandescent bulbs is unable to meet. This has greatly limited the production and use of incandescent bulbs and they are expected to be completely phased out by 2020.
Alternatives to Incandescent Light Bulbs
In light of the fact that incandescent light bulbs are not readily available for practical use and that they are costly and harmful to the atmosphere, here are some more economically and environmentally friendly alternatives.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs): These are best described as miniature versions of the common fluorescent light which uses electrical current to make phosphor gas glow. They are approximately four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. Although the price of the bulb is 3 to 10 times as much as that of the incandescent, it makes up for the price difference in energy saving over time.
On the downside, CFLs do not always work with dimmer switches, and may contain trace amounts of mercury. Also turning them on and off too frequently and exposure to outdoor elements may reduce their lifespans.
LED Lighting: These are small, solid light bulbs that drive light in one direction or in cones of varying width, depending on their design. While these lights were originally used for task lighting, flashlights and headlamps, they are being used in homes more often, serving as a replacement for incandescent bulbs. They last approximately 100 percent as long as an incandescent and are six times as efficient. While the bulbs can cost 50 to 100 times as much as an incandescent, energy saving will absorb this cost. LED’s also tend to last a long time keeping replacement costs minimal.
One disadvantage of the LED bulb is that it tends to exhibit a slight glow even when completely shut off. This is due to the small current the LEDs require to illuminate. Because LEDs are still relatively new technology, this issue is being looked into and is expected to be eliminated in time.
Though some may mourn the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs as the end of an era, it is clear this is a positive step which will result in energy savings, a healthier environment and a more aesthetically pleasing home atmosphere. With smart choices available for replacing these bulbs, it seems that we are headed in the right direction as far as conservation goes. If there are still incandescent bulbs being used in your home, it may be a good idea to research your options and see how you can benefit from the new technology that is available to you.