Tech & The Web

Lights Out?


The traditional incandescent light bulb, that nifty invention that Thomas Edison came up with 125 years ago, may finally be on its way out.

A report in today’s USA Today says a provision of the energy bill, one that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention so far, will phase out the old bulbs over the next four to 12 years in favor of a new generation of lights that are more energy-efficient.

By the year 2020, bulbs must be 70% more energy-efficient.

The downside is the cost: a pack of the old-fashioned light bulbs can be purchased for about a dollar. A pack of those spiral bulbs that look as much like modern art as lighting can cost $7 or so. However, their makers are quick to point out that the return of the buyer’s investment is realized in a few months between the lower amount of energy used and the longer life these bulbs supposedly have.

I’ve just replaced the round, clear bulbs in my bathroom with four of the smaller new-fangled bulbs. At just 10 watts each, they total the energy required for four of the old-style bulbs and put out the same amount of light. Sure, they look a little odd, but they light up the room, and that’s what a light bulb is supposed to do, isn’t it? And how can you argue when you’ve just cut your energy cost in one room by 75%?

There is also mention of a new style of LED lighting — the same technology that is making newer traffic lights and automobile brake lights brighter and easier to see — that will be available for use in the home that will cost much more but will last for 12 years.

That’s just enough time to allow me to forget where to find a replacement when the old one finally blows out.


  1. I read an interesting article in a local paper several months ago about this issue. Many people don’t like the quality or the nature of the light these CFLs produce and are resisting changing to them. The writer of the article predicted that people will start stockpiling incandescent bulbs leading up to the implementation of the legislation, and that a black market of old style bulbs will quickly form. Can you imagine meeting up with a slimy character in a back alley and surreptitiously slipping him a twenty for a four-pack of 100W bulbs?

    Also, check out your local Home Depot. You can get those CFLs in a frosted globe kind of configuration much like the incandescent bulbs you took out of that fixture. Save the planet, and look good at the same time!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.