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Top Alternatives to Incandescent Light Bulbs

led lightIt is the end of an era. The incandescent light bulb, one of the mainstays of our lives, is coming to the end of its lifetime and will be completely phased out by 2020. Now is the time to start considering alternative light sources for your home.

What has brought the end of the Incandescent light bulb?

The reason for banning the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs is the US Government's attempt to remarkably cut energy costs for the consumer while also aiming for the United States to become more energy independent.

To effectively phase out this light bulb, the government signed into law the "Energy Independence and Security Act" in 2007.

One of the provisions of the law is the banning of the production of incandescent light bulbs, therefore requiring the manufacture and use of more energy efficient light bulbs. The statistics are compelling as estimates put the annual savings across the US at $18 billion, roughly the equivalent of 80 separate coal plants' yearly output.

It is worth noting that the act did not outrightly ban the production of incandescent light bulbs but more or less introduced efficiency standards that they are unable to meet. There are, however, some exceptions to this ban.

Are there exceptions to the law?

As stated above, the act does not specifically ban the production of incandescent light bulbs. It simply introduces standards that the current technology of incandescents can not meet.

If an incandescent light bulb could be made to meet the efficiency standards, then it would not be banned under the act. For example, if a company can make an incandescent light bulb that is at least 50% more efficient, it won't be banned under the act. Also, so-called "Long Life", and certain other heavy duty incandescent bulbs, are not banned. Also, various specialty lighting, including landscape, stage, and plant lighting are exempt from this bill.

Do I have to stop using my incandescent light bulbs now?

All in all it is clear that there are significant benefits to switching away from incandescent lighting. But you might be wondering if you have to switch now. The answer is no. However, if your light bulb breaks, you won't be able to replace it. Your strategy should basically be to use your current light bulbs until they stop working, then switch to one of the alternatives that will save you a significant amount of money on your energy bills.

Here are the top 4 alternatives to incandescent light bulbs.

1) Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL)

If you're looking for a cheap screw in light bulb for your beside lamp, a CFL is an excellent choice. Their smaller version of the common fluorescent light bulb.

Pros

  • Bulbs that are turned on and off frequently can have a reduced lifespan
  • Dimmer switches are not as reliable with CFL's.
  • They contain trace amounts of the toxic metal mercury
  • They have a cold light, creating a bluish color.

Cons

  • They look almost the same as incandescent lights.
  • They produce similar warm light to incandescents.
  • They are almost as cheap as incandescents.

Average price

The average price for a 60 watt CFL is around $2.00

2) Halogen

If you're just looking for a straight swap to a light bulb that looks the same as an incandescent then halogen is the way to go.

Pros

  • They look almost the same as incandescent lights.
  • They produce similar warm light to incandescents.
  • They are almost as cheap as incandescents.

Cons

  • The energy usage is not as low as some of the other alternatives, so energy bill savings will not be as high.

Average price

The average price for a screw-type halogen bulb (used to replace incandescents), is around $1.30-$2.

3) CFL Halogen Hybrid

For those of you who don't feel like an LED bulb is worth it, but want more energy savings over a halogen bulb, the CFL Halogen Hybrid may be a good choice. The CFL Halogen offers excellent energy savings while retaining the same great glow and warmth of an incandescent bulb.

Pros

  • They offer a 75% reduction in overall energy costs vs an incandescent.
  • They look great and seem almost like the bulbs they are replacing.
  • Very little difference in light output.

Cons

  • Extremely expensive compared to pure halogen bulbs, although saves more money over the long term.

Average price

These bulbs are retailing at around $11 for a 60W equivalent bulb.

4) LED light bulbs

Once ridiculed as the light that goes on your TV standby button, the LED is now looking like it may be the dominant light bulb in the future. With increased brightness and plummeting costs, as well as comparatively tiny energy usage, LED is a fantastic choice.!

Pros

  • Produce the same, if not more light, than incandescents, for much less electricity used.
  • The technology is getting better and cheaper every year, and will soon be the better value choice.
  • Produces the same warm glow as incandescents.

Cons

  • If one LED light in a bulb breaks, it can't be replaced without replacing the whole bulb.
  • Still expensive compared to incandescents (although the price is dropping regularly and this won't remain so for long).

Average price

The average price in 2014 is around $12-18 per bulb.

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