Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
New light bulb regulations set by recent energy efficiency legislation are going into effect beginning January 2012. The changes brought on by the regulations will phase out current incandescent light bulbs for more energy-efficient bulbs.
Switching to and using energy-efficient bulbs does not necessarily mean the end of all incandescent bulb use. However, it does mean that the incandescent bulb as we know it has to be improved to work at set efficiency guidelines in order to meet the new government standards.
Read below to find out more about the new regulations and how to use energy-efficient light bulbs that will work best in your home or workshop. Then visit your local True Value hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to reduce energy costs and consumption and save on your home’s energy bill.
Understand the New Law
The first phase of The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 goes into effect in January 2012 and requires that most household light bulbs use fewer watts of electricity while providing a similar output of lumens (measure of light bulb brightness). For example, regulations require that light bulbs that use 100 watts of electricity must now use 72 watts maximum. To be in compliance with the first phase of the new standards, manufacturers must discontinue the production of the 100-watt bulbs by 2012.
Traditional-style incandescent bulbs, that have already been produced and are currently available in stores, can still be used in your light fixtures. However, there is a timeline in place for phasing out less energy-efficient incandescent bulbs for bulbs that are more effective at saving energy. The second phase of the regulations, which begin in January 2013, means bulbs that now put off 75 watts will need to use 53 watts maximum. In 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs will be required to use 43 and 29 watts, respectively. And by 2020, the regulations require that light bulbs be 60 to 70% more efficient than the standard bulbs today.
The law does not apply to some specialty incandescent bulbs. Appliance bulbs, colored bulbs and heavy-duty, shatter-resistant bulbs are a few of the bulbs that will not be subject to the new regulations.
Get to Know Energy-Efficient Bulbs
There are a number of bulb options available at your local True Value hardware store that meet the new requirements, provide close to or the same amount of light output and last longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs work with conventional, medium screw-based sockets. Listed below are the three most common bulb types you can use in place of traditional incandescent light bulbs.
Halogen Incandescent Bulbs
Halogen incandescent bulbs look and work similarly to standard incandescent light bulbs, but last two to three times longer and use about 25% less energy. Halogen gas inside the bulbs conserves their tungsten filament making them burn more efficiently and for increased duration. They are also fully dimmable, much like their standard incandescent precursors.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL)
By now most people are familiar with the distinctive, spiral shape of standard CFL bulbs. CFLs use 75% less energy and put off 75% less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs, and last 10 times longer. These energy-efficient bulbs have been growing in popularity in recent years and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends installing qualified CFLs in fixtures that are used at least 15 minutes at a time or several hours per day, both indoors and out. CFL bulbs are ideal for fixtures located in family and living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms. In addition, some CFL designs are dimmable. Compared to a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, which provides 13 to 14 lumens per watt, an equivalent CFL bulb gives off between 55 and 70 lumens per watt.
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury (4 milligrams or less), as most fluorescents do. Because of this, they should be disposed of properly when they break or cease to function. You should check with your local municipality on how to dispose of or recycle CFLs in your area. For more information see the EPA’s suggestions on cleaning up broken CFLs and recycling them.
While you should take care when cleaning up broken CFL bulbs or disposing of inactive, intact bulbs, they are completely safe to use. No mercury is released when the light bulb is working or handled. The amount of mercury inside of a CFL bulb is small.
The LED light bulb uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 15 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb. They also turn on instantly without a warm-up time and give off much less heat than standard bulbs. Compared to a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, an equivalent LED bulb can give off between 60 and 100 lumens per watt.
How to Shop for New Bulbs
Shopping for energy-efficient bulbs that meet new regulation standards requires the bulbs to be purchased by lumens instead of watts.
Energy-efficient bulb packaging currently provides helpful information detailing how a bulb’s light output compares to traditional incandescent light output. For example, if you want the light output of a 100-watt bulb, look for a bulb that provides 1,600 lumens of light. Look for 800 lumens if you usually use a 60-watt bulb for light fixtures in your home. A CFL bulb that provides 450 lumens is equivalent to a traditional 40-watt bulb. Starting in 2012, new light bulb packaging will include prominent displays of the number of lumens the bulb gives off and an estimate of how much money can be saved per year by using the bulb.
What Are the Benefits?
According to the EPA, there are 4 billion light bulb sockets in the U.S. and more than 3 billion of them still use standard incandescent light bulbs. Ninety percent of the electricity used by incandescents is lost as heat given off by the bulbs. Using energy-efficient light bulbs saves energy by requiring less electricity to work. When more people begin to use CFL and LED bulbs, it means reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. The bulbs save electricity and help the environment at the same time. After the new regulations set forth by the law go into effect, U.S households will be on the way to collectively saving close to $6 billion in 2015, according to an estimate by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Click here to learn more about light bulb legislation, proper use of different bulb types and to shop for light bulbs.
Congratulations, you’re now well versed in the new light bulb regulations and technology. For all your home improvement projects, visit your local True Value hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.
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