What's the Difference Between CLF Bulbs and Incandescent Bulbs? 

Help, I am trying to change my light bulbs do my part to use less energy. It is difficult to understand the alternatives. I am so comfortable with the trusty 40W/60W/100W bulbs. Can you please shed some light on this?

- Edwin in Prescott Valley

Changing to CFL’s is one of the easiest things you can do to immediately lower your energy bill. On average, CFL’s use 75% less energy than regular bulbs and they last up to 10 times longer, this can save you more than $40 over the life of each bulb. Not to mention, they operate cooler; producing 70% less heat than a regular incandescent bulb, so you also save on air conditioning costs. There are many new bulbs sprouting up on our store shelves and seem to be overrunning the familiar incandescent bulb. In 2007 the Department of Energy announced new energy standards affecting efficiency requirements for light bulbs that will affect and already have affected the hundreds of millions of fluorescent tube lights in offices, stores and factories and would also phase out the conventional incandescent bulbs. Congress enacted a phase out of standard incandescent light bulbs in favor of advanced technology and other high efficiency products starting in 2012. Several of our own Arizona lawmakers wanted to keep the state burning bright with incandescent blubs beyond 2012; however a vote failed in Congress to repeal part of the 2007 law that would begin gradually phasing out energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs in January of 2012.

So we are all going to be faced with new bulbs and we need to be ready for the switch. Most incandescent bulbs will be phased out by 2014 with some specialty bulbs exempt. I know I am, and I am sure many of you are accustomed to buying bulbs based on watts. Now I find myself buying based on actual brightness, which is measured in something called lumens. This is happening because manufactures have figured out a way to produce the same amount of light with fewer watts. Here is an example: A typical halogen incandescent bulb needs only 43 watts to create 800 lumens this is the same brightness as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. I have noticed that lighting packages now have watt conversions listed and I am sure that in no time at all we will see other consumer lighting facts on packaging.

There are three main alternatives to the familiar incandescent bulb on our shelves; the halogen-incandescent, CLF and LED. Halogens behave most like existing bulbs; however they have an inner capsule filled with halogen gas around a filament to make the bulb about 25% more efficient. These are the least inexpensive alternative to the incandescent. CFL’s cost a little more, however they contain faint traces of mercury which can be release of the bulb is broken. The tell-tale spiral shape that seems to be unsightly is now hidden inside a pear-shaped outer bulb. The LED is 85% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. The LED’s are the most expensive and they have 9 watt and 13 watt bulbs that replace the standard 40watt and 60 watt incandescent and they are in the $20-$50 range. I am sure light bulbs will drop dramatically in prove over the next few years and we should watch for LED’s to replace our standard 60 watt and 100 watt bulbs. We will soon be able to put brighter bulbs in our lamps and fixtures that will use less wattage and although we probably do not think of light bulbs every day, it seems that the Federal Government is going to force us to do so.

Phone: (928) 778-0040

810 E. Sheldon Street, Prescott, AZ 86301

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