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Jenny Heinzen York

See ya, 60-watt

January 31, 2014

Those who know me well know that I have a fascination with light bulbs. It's a nerdy obsession, to be sure, but one that I have grown quite passionate about over the last several years as I've learned so much about the topic.
So I'm going to be blunt and tell you what I think, though I realize that many of you who read this will disagree sharply with me.
I am all for the bulb ban.
OK, OK, I know I will hear from those of you who think government has no business telling you which light bulbs you can or cannot use in your homes. Point taken. But, given that the regulations are already in place and appear unlikely to be changed, it's my recommendation that you get over it.
I heard an interview on NPR recently with a designer who said she was hoarding incandescent bulbs now that the 60-watt and 40-watt typical bulbs that we all know so well are no longer being produced. When asked about the wastefulness of these bulbs (they give off about 90% of their energy in heat rather than light), she said that it wasn't wasteful because she used that heat from the bulb to heat her kitchen in New York. Frankly, that sounds like a fire hazard to me, and it certainly doesn't answer the question about summertime light usage.
I hear all the time that it is designers who are the most resistant to phasing out the incandescent bulbs. And yes, the compact fluorescent bulbs that were touted as the replacements for many years left a whole lot to be desired - the color was awful, their lifespans were not as advertised, they were slow to warm up, they weren't dimmable, mercury was concern, etc., etc. But the fact is that many of those problems have already been remedied by the newer incarnations of CFLs.
An even bigger fact that is emerging is that LEDs don't have any of these problems - and they offer tremendous cost-savings and extremely long lifespans. I'm a pretty fierce conservationist, and have switched all of my most-used lamps to LEDs and nearly all other bulbs to CFLs in my own home.
This stuff matters. The commercial that's running on the air now always grabs my attention. You know, the one that tells us that if every household replaced just one bulb with an energy-efficient, it would save enough energy to light 3 million households. Given that the average single-family home has more than 80 bulbs in use, even switching just a few bulbs can make a tremendous impact on the energy that this country uses.
The changes are here, and hoarding is only a short-term, and frankly, short-sighted solution. Capitalizing on this "teaching moment" can benefit retailers, interior designers and homeowners - not to mention planet earth. Give one of those nice new LED bulbs a chance - I think it will make you feel warm and fuzzy to know that you are making a difference in our environment without having to sacrifice anything that you love about your good-old incandescents. And you won't have to crank up your AC to make up for that kind of warmth.