New and Efficient Incandescents: Choosing the Right Type

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Miriam Berg and Claire Layton
April 22, 2011

Are you nervous about using energy-efficient light bulbs? Feel daunted by the new lighting standards coming into effect January 2012? To lessen your stress and ease your transition into efficient lighting, try the new and improved incandescent halogen bulbs, a very similar alternative to our current incandescent light bulbs.

What’s Different with New Incandescents?

Though conventional incandescent light bulbs have been criticized by both government and energy advocates, lighting companies are rapidly adapting with new and improved incandescent halogen bulbs that use 25% to 30% less energy on average, and can last up to three times longer than older versions.

The light given off by incandescent halogen resembles the familiar warm glow of old-fashioned bulbs. They are dimmable and are the most similar in shape and size to standard light bulbs, but also reduce energy use.

Read more about these innovations in The New York Times Magazine’s “Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge.”

How Do They Compare to Other Efficient Bulbs?

The majority of opponents to the new lighting standards criticize the harshness of the light emitted by older LED and CFL bulbs (however, newer bulbs have been developed to emit warmer and softer light). Other concerns include the delayed start time and inability to dim older CFL bulbs (although newer, higher-quality CFLs are available without these issues). In addition, CFLs contain an infinitesimal amount of mercury, requiring CFLs to be recycled instead of thrown in the trash.

Meanwhile, new incandescents are mercury-free, and produce light similar to the old-fashioned bulbs with a similarly immediate startup. For a basic overview, view consumersearch's list of pros and cons to the Halogena bulb by Philips. For a more detailed comparison, the Department of Energy’s website has an article describing each new category of energy efficient light bulbs.

How Do I Pick the Right Bulb?

To begin your transition into energy efficient lighting, first decide which light fixtures you use most. These are the areas where you will see the most drastic results in energy savings.

Start by selecting the bulb appropriate for the light fixture. Then choose a new bulb that will create your desired room ambience. Two of the most noteworthy brands developing incandescent halogen bulbs are Philips and Osram Sylvania. Visit their sites to learn more about their assortment in energy efficient incandescent light bulbs. Energy Star also has developed a guide showcasing the difference between the various types of energy efficient bulbs.

Written by Alliance Intern Claire Layton.