Sunday, May 16, 2010

Incandescent, CFL or LED Light Bulbs?

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 and he certainly didn’t think about Planned Obsolescence and the environmental effect that it would cause. After many years, corporation like GE invested a lot in the Research & Development department and decided to apply planned obsolescence to increase product’s demand.  The average number of hours a light bulb works is around 1’000 hours. Nevertheless, GE is coming with a new product in the next months that will revolutionize the market. The LED light bulb by GE will improve the amount of light given per unit of energy input and it will last 25x times more than a normal incandescent light bulbs. We can ask ourselves if GE is really going to introduce a long-term period light bulb but the question now is to give you some tips to how save energy, make your light bulb last longer and how to recycle it to have less impact on the environment.

How to save energy?

Saving energy is an important aspect of obsolescence because first it saves you an important amount of money to pay for your electricity bill. Second, it can lead you to change less often light bulbs. A good way to start saving energy is to turn off your lights when you don’t need it and you’ll start extending the lifetime of your light bulbs right away. The next tip is to switch your lighting to some compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) because they use 75% less energy than a standard light bulb and they last 10x times longer. The CFL light bulbs contain hazardous material like mercury which is dangerous for the landfills.

How to make your light bulb last longer?

As said earlier, CFL light bulbs are lasting 10x times longer than incandescent bulb and LED light bulb are lasting 25x times longer. What you might not know is that if you frequently turn on and off the lights, you’re decreasing the lifetime of your incandescent bulb while there’s no effect on LEDs. Something you should be aware also is that CFL light bulbs contain mercury which is dangerous for the landfills if the bulb breaks. So if you want your light bulb to last longer, you should change your lights to LEDs because they are more cost efficient and less toxic for the environment. You might pay a little more when you buy it but in the long term, you will save energy while using it and by using it more.

How to recycle the light bulb?

You should be aware that 1 teaspoon of mercury can contaminate a 20 acre lake forever. That’s one of the many reasons why we should be aware about recycling the CFL light bulbs. According to the EPA, incinerators in the USA spill more than 70,000 pounds of mercury in the environment each year.
You should first check if your state or local environmental regulatory agency offers you some disposal options. If not, make sure when you place those light bulbs in the households garbage to place it in two plastic bags and seal it before putting in the trash.

To summarize, you’ll need to pay a little more at the cashier but in the long run, you’ll win on the cost-efficiency of the bulb and you’ll help protect the environment against more hazardous material into the environment. So think twice before changing your lights and don’t be afraid to spend more sometimes for better quality.

By Schahram Rezai-Ahvanoui


  1. LED lighting is not even remotely feasible at this time for mass indoor lighting due to the cost. An LED light that provides an equivalent amount of light to a standard T8 fluorescent lamp costs more that $150 vs. less than $2 for the fluorescent lamp. LEDs do not contain mercury and do not have the same mercury vapor issues. While this technology holds promise for the future, fluorescent lamps are currently in use and the issue of mercury vapor needs to be addressed now. It is everyone's job to help ensure that safe, effective recycling of mercury-containing products including CFLs—is done properly and will continue to be a common practice. Get more information here .

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