One of the biggest misconceptions among the public and news media is that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the only replacements for incandescent light bulbs. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There are currently at least three widely-known technology options that can replace incandescent light bulbs and deliver the required higher efficiency, and more innovative technological options lay just around the corner. Three other light sources that are lesser known and not discussed below are cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), induction lamps, and electron stimulated luminescence lamps (ESL).
- Halogen light bulbs are actually a type of incandescent. They deliver the same color of light, they are dimmable, mercury-free, and they use about 30% less energy than standard incandescents.
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are available in a variety of color temperatures (warm white, cool white, neutral white, etc.) They use about 75% less energy than standard incandescents and last anywhere from 6 to 16 times longer. CFLs have a rated life between 6,000 and 15,000 hours. They do contain a small amount of mercury (the amount approximately equal to the period at the end of this sentence); however, if we account for the mercury that is released into the atmosphere from coal-fired electrical generators, incandescents cause more mercury to be released into the environment.
- Solid State Lighting (SSL) sources include Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), which have very recently hit the shelves of home improvement stores. LEDs use about 80% less energy than incandescents and they are mercury-free. The real savings with LEDs, though, comes from their incredible rated life. Depending on the particular light fixture, an LED can last between 25,000 and 50,000 hours before needing a replacement. That means an LED can light a room for about 17 years!