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Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida

Did you know that 25% of the money spent on home energy goes towards electric lighting?  Wouldn’t you like to reduce that cost?  Well, you can and it’s easy; not to mention, by 2014, you’ll have no other choice.

As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 incandescent bulbs are being outlawed starting in 2012, when 100 watt bulbs will no longer be available.  The 75 watt will go in 2013 and the 60 watt and 40 watt will wink out in 2014.

Why is the government telling us what we can plug into our light fixtures?  For good reason: “Incandescent bulbs force electricity through tungsten wires until they get so hot they start to glow. The bulbs have been described as space heaters that release light as a by-product, which sounds like a joke but is pretty accurate.” (Nashua Telegraph)  Basically these light bulbs waste 80% to 90% of the energy used just to heat up that wire.

What other options will we have? LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs, CFL (compact fluorescent lights) bulbs and halogen incandescent bulbs will provide light with much reduced energy consumption.  And that means your electricity bill goes down and the pollution that is a byproduct of energy production will go down, too.  And while the initial cost of these light bulbs is higher than the incandescent bulbs, the lifetime cost is much lower.

One very important thing to know is that CFLs do contain mercury.  That is not a health issue while in the bulb, but if broken, mercury vapor can be emitted.  If that happens, you should air out the room for at least 15 minutes and use a wet rag to clean up all the bits and pieces.  Seal all that in a bag and dispose of the bag, either at a recycling center or in the trash.

The best way to dispose of burned out bulbs is to recycle them (in fact, some states require that you recycle them); recycling the bulbs insures that no mercury gets into the environment.  Some retailers, like Home Depot, ACE Hardware, Lowe’s and many others, will take used CFLs for recycling.  Visit the EPA website to learn more about proper disposal and where you can recycle your CFLs locally.

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