CFL’s Deeper Penetration Excites Efficient Bulb Market

Your incandescent bulbs will be banned after 2012? Wrong. New replacement bulbs will be dimmer or flicker too much for reading and room lighting? Not true. Americans are resisting the transition to CFLs and other new light bulb technologies? Not according to a new study. Lots of rumors and fears surround the new efficiencies to be introduced in light bulb design over the next few years. But the main thing to know is: incandescent bulbs will not be banned or eliminated. And now there is an Android app to help you determine what type of CFLs can replace your various incandescent bulbs.
CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), which use 1/3 the energy of a standard incandescent bulb, have appeal to both the red and the blue states according to a study by E Source. Respondents identifying themselves as conservative, moderate or liberal showed the same rates of adoption of the new bulb technology.
According to E Source President Michael Shepard "Apparently saving money on electricity bills isn't really a political issue for most people." His study found 81% of US households using at least one CFL bulb. California and Alaska have the greatest CFL use; 87% of those homes have at least one and almost 50% have 6 or more. Even in the Dakotas, the two states with the least CFL market penetration, over 2/3 of households have a CFL.
Homeowners are more likely than renters to use CFLs, and older Americans and those in higher income groups are more likely to use them. Even those making less than $25,000 per year have at least one. CFL sales have climbed in 10 years from under 2% of residential lighting to almost 28% of home light bulb sales. Nearly 15-20% of the nation's electricity use goes to lighting, and Shepard says consumer demand, utility programs and efficiency standards have led lighting companies to develop better light bulb technologies over the last decade.
Legislation adopted in 2007 on a bipartisan basis, to take effect in 2012, will lower the wattage, without dimming the lighting ability of incandescent bulbs, starting with the 100 watt bulb. A conservative-led effort to repeal this bill failed in Congress last month. It aimed to block states from setting light bulb electricity consumption or efficiency standards.
Despite standards in the 2007 legislation that would save the average household $100 per year, reducing the equivalent of the pollution caused by 30 power plants, keeping 100 million tons of carbon (the equivalent of 17 million cars) out of the atmosphere, the bill's sponsor called it a fight for "personal liberty." As representatives of the lighting industry hoped, the bill did not pass in the House of Representatives.
A new mobile app, "Light Bulb Finder", available for Android phones, helps you choose which CFL bulbs to use based on financial payback and environmental impact. It then allows you to order CFLs through the app and provides a customized list of local retailers offering the recommended CFL model. You enter your zip code so the app can calculate electricity rates in your area, then it has you choose a lamp type and bulb currently in use, select the bulb base type, choose features such as dimmable or 3-way, choose a current wattage, the number of hours per day the bulb is in use, the number of bulbs of that type needed, and the room where you will use the bulbs. Light Bulb Finder provides a summary of your selections, and then you press "Select a bulb."
In my case, after selecting to replace one standard 75 watt bulb to be used 8 hours a day in my living room, Light Bulb Finder recommended an 18 watt Philips CFL "twister" shaped bulb costing $4.31, with a payback period of 4 months, saving $62 over its lifetime, preventing 143 lbs. of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, and offered a variety of purchase and ordering options. Sounds like a good deal to me.
And if you agree, for reading this far, we will send you a free CFL bulb if you are one of the first three readers to comment on this article. Leave me a contact in your comment or contact me at the email or twitter addresses at the bottom of this page after leaving your comment and we will arrange for you to receive your CFL bulb.

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I am a Seattle-based writer. Energy efficiency and the achievement of human potential are my goals. I have worked as a legislative aide and a database manager, and recently started building a money- and energy-saving household goods online store featuring sensible and affordable home environment solutions including ENERGY STAR qualified products. Contact: Twitter: @Greenbespoke @SaveWattsatHome