According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, light bulbs need to be 25 percent more efficient in 2014. Because the typical incandescent light bulb releases 90 percent of its energy as heat (not light), they cannot comply with the new standards and are being phased out. While many of us have already switched out inefficient lighting with newer more efficient bulbs, nearly 70 percent of light sockets in America still contain inefficient incandescent bulbs. As a result, the majority of American households will soon be purchasing a new type of general use light bulb.
As you transition to more efficient lighting, rule number one is to purchase only Energy Star rated light bulbs. Energy Star helps to ensure consistency in quality and a higher performing bulb. Energy Star certifies two excellent alternatives to replace your incandescent bulbs: compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
CFLs are the corkscrew shaped bulbs that are now common place. CFLs are 75 percent more efficient than incandescents and can last 10 times longer. The EPA estimates that you will save an average of $6 per bulb per year in electricity costs. This cost savings can add up when you think about replacing each bulb in your household and the longer lifespan of each bulb. CFLs also have some drawbacks. Each bulb contains a small amount of mercury which means they need to be recycled. Most places that sell CFLs will also take them back for recycling, including Parry’s, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Staples, just to name a few. CFLs also have a reputation for flickering, needing time to “warm up” in cold conditions, and having inferior light quality. Recent advances in quality have largely overcome these concerns. So, if you haven’t tried a new Energy Star certified CFL lately, it is worth a second look.
LEDs are even more efficient and longer lasting than CFLs. Now that they are available in screw-in form at many retail stores, they can easily replace incandescent bulbs or CFLs. However, LEDs also have some drawbacks. Even though they will save you money over the life of the bulb, they are more expensive up front. Also, LED light is directional as opposed to incandescents and CFLs which emit light in all directions. Despite these drawbacks many consumers are making the switch to LEDs and enjoying a longer-lasting more efficient and durable light bulb.
At Colgate, we have made a concentrated effort to replace inefficient lighting with CFL and LED alternatives. This has led to significant savings in energy, cost, and labor. If you are still using incandescent bulbs in your office, you can help us in this effort. Unscrew the incandescent bulb (remember, 90 percent of the energy is wasted as heat so be careful not to burn yourself) and bring it to the Sustainability Office (109M Lathrop). We will gladly give you a new CFL to replace your old bulb!