U.S. phases out incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient lighting products

U.S. phases out incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient lighting products

The Energy Committee of the U.S. Senate is drafting a bill that would phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs in the United States. Incandescent bulbs, the same type of light bulb first developed by Thomas Edison, produce light by forcing an electric current through a thin filament. This filament is heated up and,

The Energy Committee of the U.S. Senate is drafting a bill that would phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs in the United States. Incandescent bulbs, the same type of light bulb first developed by Thomas Edison, produce light by forcing an electric current through a thin filament. This filament is heated up and, as a consequence, emits light. These bulbs are incredibly inefficient, however, and up to 90 percent of the energy put into them gets released in the form of heat rather than light.

Other methods of producing illumination include fluorescent light, which uses heated gases, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Both are significantly more efficient and longer-lived than incandescent bulbs, although more expensive.

The move to ban incandescent bulbs is part of a wider attempt to curb U.S. energy usage in order to address the problem of global warming. According to the Department of Energy, 22 percent of U.S. energy usage goes toward lighting, although it is not clear from this statistic how much of this energy is currently consumed by fluorescents versus incandescents.

Australia has already announced that it will phase out the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2010, and Canada plans to meet that goal by 2012. Thirteen U.S. states are also considering proposals to at least partially ban incandescent bulbs.

Some environmentalists hope that a switch to fluorescent or LED bulbs would help curb the growth of the coal industry, as coal is the primary source of electricity in the United States. According to Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, a worldwide switch to compact fluorescent bulbs would save enough energy to take 270 coal-fired power plants offline. Consumer advocate Mike Adams, founder of EcoLEDs, says that LED lights represent the future of Earth-friendly lighting because they contain no mercury, unlike compact fluorescent lights.

General Electric has not abandoned hope for incandescent bulbs, however. The company has announced that it hopes to release a new type of incandescent bulb in 2010 that is as energy efficient as a compact fluorescent.

 

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