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Energy-Saving Lightbulbs

Incandescent bulbs are changing quickly to keep up with more-efficient, longer-lasting competitors

Shopping for lightbulbs isn't the simple task it used to be. Incandescent bulbs now compete with compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), both of which are more expensive but also more energy efficient and longer lasting. To understand the array of lightbulbs now on store shelves, architect Paul DeGroot looks at the three categories of lights in detail. Manufacturers have increased the efficiency of incandescents by adapting an old technology: the quartz-halogen light. These new-generation incandescents are about twice as expensive as older incandescents but should last longer and pay for themselves in energy savings. DeGroot acknowledges CFLs' shortcomings--high prices, slow response, harsh color, and inability to dim--but he says that the best of today's CFLs have overcome those problems. The final category, LEDs, has the most expensive bulbs, but these are also the most efficient and longest lasting. DeGroot gives detailed information on 11 specific bulbs, then includes a chart with information on 26 bulbs, including lumens, price, expected life span, and approximate payback. In a sidebar, he writes about what some erroneously believe is an impending government ban on incandescent bulbs, explaining that the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires a higher level of efficiency but does not prohibit the manufacture and sale of incandescents.

Energy-Saving Lightbulbs

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