May 19, 2022

A Bright Idea – CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs)

Energy Department’s New Lighting Standards

The Energy Department announced new lighting standards that are expected to reduce the nations energy bill by $4 billion annually when implemented in 2012.

The change that will affect the average American the most will be the ban on the sale of standard  incandescent light bulbs in 2014.  Huge energy savings are already immediately available to every American by simply replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent.  One has to wonder,  why would the Energy Department take another 5 years to ban the energy wasteful incandescent bulb?

CFL Math Background

Before beginning any calculations or comparisons, it is important to understand some basic differences between CFLs and incandescent light bulbs, which are the watts of electricity used and the expected lifetime of each. Understanding these differences will help ensure that two equivalent light bulbs will be compared.

The first difference between the two types of bulbs is that CFLs use up to 80% less electricity, or watts, to produce similar light output, or lumens, as incandescent bulbs. For example, a typical 100 watt incandescent light bulb will have a light output between 1600 and 1750 lumens, which is a similar range to that of a 23 watt CFL. This is why a 23 watt CFL would be labeled as a 100 watt replacement. It is important that two light bulbs that produce similar light output are being compared.

Another difference is how long they last, or the life of the bulb. CFLs last anywhere between 7,000 and 12,000 hours compared to incandescents that will only last between 750 and 1,000 hours.

Replacing just one incandescent bulb with a CFL can save a homeowner roughly $90 over four years in electricity cost.  Incredibly, many Americans still chose the much more costly incandescent bulb over the much less expensive and energy efficient CFL because of the cost difference up front.  An incandescent bulb can cost 25 cents while a CFL can cost $2 to $3.

Consumers Spurn Flourescent

Thomas Edison unveiled his incandescent bulb in 1879, and since then it has illuminated the world. But it is highly inefficient, generating 90% heat and 10% light.

There is a better bulb. In fact, there are several. The spiral-shaped “compact fluorescent,” around for years, produces the same amount of light as its incandescent ancestor with one-quarter the energy. It lasts for years, provides light in an array of hues, and, by lowering electricity bills, pays for itself in about seven months.

Studies say improving the efficiency of the light bulb is among the easiest ways to start meaningfully curbing fossil-fuel consumption. Lighting accounts for some 20% of residential electricity use in the U.S. — a lot to fritter away as wasted heat. Yet about 80% of all bulbs sold to U.S. consumers are incandescents, which often cost less than 25 cents apiece, about one-tenth the price of a compact fluorescent.

Given the facts involved, why would most people still use the much more costly incandescent light bulb?  Is it simply a case of consumer ignorance – or is the average American budget simply too tight to afford the right choice?


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