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We’re not far off from an age devoid of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. In such an age, there will be consequences. The transmogrification of the Easy-Bake Oven as we know it is one of those consequences. As it uses 100-watt light bulbs to cook the mixtures placed inside, a new heating element will be required after the ban.

The Easy-Bake Oven wasn’t the first attempt at miniature novelty cookery. Before the Easy-Bake oven there were products like the Little Lady Range from a company called Lionel. Such “toys” were scaled-down version of real appliances, which meant lots of exposed heating elements that could potentially burn little hands. The designers of the Easy-Bake Oven took a cue from street vendors’ pretzel ovens to create a modified oven where you slide bakeware full of batter or dough through the oven to cook and cool.

100-watt incandescent light bulbs above and below the bakeware cooked the mixtures and created the novelty foods. The makers of the Easy-Bake Oven plan to release a new version called the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, but they have not revealed what the heating element will be. It certainly won’t be any newer light bulbs like LED or CFLs, as they run very cool compared to incandescents.

Through all the aesthetic redesigns, the Easy-Bake Oven has used the same two 100-watt incandescent light bulbs for baking. How will the new version work? A related story is the old Creepy Crawlers oven, which used a light bulb to heat metal molds filled with plastic goop to create creatures. Will Creepy Crawlers receive a sans-light bulb update as well?

A few years ago in 2007 former president George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law. The provisions in this law are intended to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions and enable the US to be less dependent on foreign sources of oil. It’s a rather sweeping set of changes, but the change most relevant to consumers is probably the phaseout of 40W, 60W, 75W, and 100W standard incandescent light bulbs.

The EISA provides for a three year phaseout schedule that starts with inefficient 100W incandescents in 2012. The next year will see 75W incandescents gone, and the third year will phase out 60W and 40W bulbs. In addition to the phaseout, the law sets minimum standards for general service incandescent light bulbs, making it necessary for you to replace old inefficient incandescents with new energy efficient lighting.

There are currently three technology options for replacing incandescent light bulbs; halogen, compact fluorescent, and solid state (LED). New halogen light bulbs will be in wattages compliant with new maximum rated wattages. The new wattages replace the old as follows; instead of 40W, 60W, 75W, and 100W, maximum rated wattages will be 29W, 43W, 53W, and 72W. You can expect new halogen bulbs to be designed to look just like old incandescents, and because halogens are a form of incandescent light bulb you can use them in any place you’re currently using incandescents.

The other two energy efficient options (CFL and LED) use a lot less energy than even halogens, but have drawbacks of their own. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are very energy efficient and come in nearly any color temperature you could want, but they do contain very small amounts of toxic mercury so they must be handled with care and disposed of/recycled carefully. LED light bulbs do not contain mercury, but are extremely expensive, limiting their use to commercial and business applications for now.

Light bulbs do not make good heatersWhenever it gets cold, you may hear it said that incandescent light bulbs can help heat the house. That’s not quite true. While incandescent light bulbs do use 90% of their watts creating heat, it’s not heat that is useful or efficient. Heat rises, and since the vast majority of light bulbs are already installed in the ceiling or at ceiling height, the heat has nowhere to go and dissipates before being useful to anyone.

If you were determined to utilize the heat produced by incandescent light bulbs, you could install them on the floor; otherwise, they’re just not efficient sources of heat by any measure. If you need localized heating, standard space heaters would be the way to go, with energy efficient light bulbs for lighting. There are two main choices for energy efficient lighting; LED light bulbs, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

LED light bulbs are the newer of the two, and very expensive. They’re completely safe, devoid of any toxic materials like mercury. Research and development into LED technology continues, and prices for LED light bulbs are dropping every year. Soon enough they will be affordable for everyone, and will be the best choice for energy efficient lighting.

The best most affordable energy efficient option right now would be compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use around 75% less energy than incandescents, and have a wide variety of color temperatures available for really customizable light. Their only caveat is the trace presence of mercury in each bulb; about 3mg in the newest CFLs, most of which adheres to the glass and does not spread if the bulb is broken. They’re not a health hazard one at a time, but in the millions they would be hazardous, so they must be recycled.

Incandescent light bulbs are on the way out, and the myth that they can contribute useful heat during the winter is false.

The issue of mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs is probably the most well-known issue affecting energy efficient light bulbs, but what usually isn’t known is how progressing technology continues to reduce the actual amount of mercury. To reflect these technological improvements, the EPA guidelines for dealing with a broken CFL have been revised.

Common contemporary compact fluorescent light bulbs contain about 4mg of mercury per lamp. Most of that 4mg coats the inside of the glass tubing and is not released from a broken bulb. The EPA’s revised tips indicate that the tiny amount of vaporized mercury from a single broken bulb is within the safe range for adults. It’s heartening to see a government agency providing sound, reasonable information instead of the fear mongering doomsday info they previously gave.

That’s not to say CFLs are off the hook with respect to mercury. It’s still extremely important to dispose of them properly, be it through recycling or safe destruction. Mercury buildup from millions of CFLs in landfills would indeed be very poisonous and negatively impact the environment. Correctly recycled and/or destroyed CFLs pose no threat to humans or the environment, and as such they remain the top cost-effective energy efficient lighting technology for consumers.

LED light bulbs and other energy efficient lighting technologies are continually being improved, and in time will overtake the popularity of CFLs. The prices of LED technology are dropping pretty consistently every year, in some cases by 15% to 20%. Until then, compact fluorescent light bulbs are a safe, inexpensive energy efficient light source for everyone.

Triad Light SourceAt the Center of Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, NC, researchers have invented a prototype light source which in coming years could give traditional light bulbs a run for their money. Researchers claim the following attributes for their new light source: it doesn’t get hot, won’t break, and has energy efficiency and lifetime similar to or better than LED light bulbs and CFLs. Should the light source become commercially viable, you could expect early uses to be task lighting, under cabinets, and places where light bulbs don’t normally fit.

Though the light source uses modified phosphors similar to mercury vapor, it nonetheless contains no mercury or any other toxic chemicals. Head researcher Dave Carroll says it’s environmentally friendly; you could “throw this into a landfill, there isn’t anything in this that will hurt you” according to Carroll. He goes on to note that the material can be shaped into anything; for example it could be molded into a lamp shade. A luminescent lamp shade would be quite interesting; there would be no standard light bulbs beneath the shade, because the shade itself would be the light bulb.

We’re still years off from seeing this light source in any type of commercial form, but a company called PureLux has already started marketing for it. Hopefully this technology will be fully researched. I’d love to be able to buy some light panels for myself. Imagine a future where the walls and ceilings themselves are the light sources; no light bulbs or fixtures necessary. That’d be pretty cool!

Apparently the technology doesn’t burn out, but just dims over time. That’s kind of how LED light bulbs work. LEDs do have an eventual death, but the reason for their long life spans is that rather than burning out abruptly, they dim over a very long period of time until they are finally unable to provide luminance. The newly invented light source from the Center of Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials should prove to be a groundbreaking technology if it becomes commercially viable.

CFL Halogen Hybrid Light BulbGE has an interesting concept in their new halogen-CFL hybrid light bulbs. They have not yet revealed a name for this concept, but that is probably OK as the hybrid light bulbs will simply become part of GE’s existing light bulb lines. The two lines to which GE will add hybrid light bulb availability are the GE Reveal and GE Energy Smart Soft White.

Kristin Gibbs, general manager of North American consumer marketing at GE Lighting had this to say, “When you look at our prototype incandescent-shaped bulb with that little halogen capsule nestled inside our smallest compact fluorescent tube, you’re seeing a byproduct of our intense customer focus and our innovation mindset. We’ve constantly improved the initial brightness of our CFLs but customers haven’t been wholly satisfied. This is a giant leap forward.”

Hybrid light bulbs could certainly turn out to be a giant leap forward, but for now they seem more of a jump up in the same place. The hybrids will include improved current technology, though; GE scientists engineered the bulb to operate with the lowest level of mercury yet: 1 mg. Most current compact fluorescent light bulbs have 3.5 mg, plus or minus 1 mg. The halogen capsule inside the CFL portion of the light bulb fires instantly when it is turned on, which eliminates the delay to full brightness that plagues standard compact fluorescent light bulbs. The halogen capsule turns off once the compact fluorescent light bulb portion has reached full brightness.

The first wave of hybrids launched will be 15-watt and 20-watt, which are considered viable replacements for 60-watt and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs. A lot of people will probably want to try these light bulbs out, as the delay to full brightness that compact fluorescent light bulbs exhibit is a common complaint.

Halloween decorations take a lot of planning to successfully implement. You’ll probably end up needing string lights, rope lights, black lights, orange lights, and all other manner of unique lighting. Get a good batch of these light bulbs and you could have the best Halloween scene in the neighborhood!

Whether you decide to make your yard, garage, house or all three of them into Halloween delights, you will need to have access to an assortment of lights. Rope lights, orange and black compact fluorescent light bulbs, and all manner of other lighting can be utilized for the best setup in town! If you don’t implement the lighting correctly, however, you could ruin the scene. Do it right and you’ll be the envy of everyone.

A haunted house or tree house is a perfect example. Imagine you’ve created a haunted tree house connected to multiple trees in your front yard using quality timber, many fake animals, and of course some carved pumpkins. If you under-light the graveyard it will not be very visible and have little or no impact on your visitors. Conversely, if you over-light the area you can ruin the effect by making it too stark and obvious.

Whatever your choice may be for Halloween scenes, the right lighting will be your best friend. Compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED light bulbs are great ideas with their varied color temperatures and low energy usage. They come in dimmable styles as well so you can customize the lighting to be as appropriate as possible for your particular Halloween scene. You can save money this year by using energy efficient light bulbs instead of old inefficient incandescent light bulbs.

As time goes on, energy efficient light bulbs gain more and more market share and illuminate ever more homes and businesses across the world. Still, lighting manufacturers are looking for ways to keep their hold on the incandescent market due to the legislation Congress set forth in 2007 to ban inefficient light bulbs in 2012. The most popular choice for lighting among consumers has always been incandescent, which makes the benefit of incandescent research obvious. Manufacturers will find a way to make incandescent light bulbs as efficient or close to as efficient as compact fluorescent light bulbs if such a thing is possible.

At the forefront of attempts at more efficient incandescent lighting is Philips Lighting. They’ve released a 30% more efficient incandescent light bulb, which for 70 watts provides the same lumen output as a standard 100 watt incandescent. Not bad at all for a first release. Of course it’s not enough for me to change back to incandescent (not that I would anyway, I prefer the light from CFLs), but it’s a step in the right direction. The technology for these bulbs is being developed by a company called Deposition Sciences; they’re looking to work with other manufacturers in addition to Philips.

While the 30% more efficient incandescent light bulb has been moved to consumer production, Deposition Sciences continues to develop further advancements. They claim they have created 50% more efficient bulbs, with further research ongoing. If such a bulb is released, it would only be a matter of time before incandescent light bulbs are matching CFLs at 75% increased efficiency.

An inventor in Los Angeles believes he can create an incandescent light bulb with 100% increased efficiency; I’m sure something was misinterpreted there, because we’re kind of a long way off from 0 watt bulbs providing the lumens of 100 watt bulbs.

Light Bulbs Mixed With Smoke AlarmsDesigner Arthur Brault has come up with quite an interesting concept. What he calls the “Lum” is basically a smoke alarm which screws into standard sockets of light bulbs, and that also has a socket itself for screwing in a compact fluorescent light bulb. It’s still just a concept, but I can see it doing very well once it’s on the market.

From the concept photos it looks like it won’t be the smallest gadget; you’ll need a fairly wide open fixture to accommodate the smoke alarm base. Open fixtures or those with wide areas near the base would seem to be best. A nice thing about the Lum is that once you do find the right spot, you won’t need to do anything else with it for a very long time. Think of it as an “install and forget” piece of technology; the battery in the smoke alarm portion is charged when the light bulb is turned on.

If smoke is detected, the device has the ability to not only use sound to alert you, but also to turn on the light bulb installed. Such a feature would be perfect in situations where there is no power, or smoke is causing disorientation preventing your ability to locate the light switch, or any number of scenarios.

As it is still in the concept/development stage, I would love to see the issue of “false alarms” addressed. I’m sure almost everyone has experienced this; pulling some sort of food out of the oven or boiling some water or something similar, and the steam/hot air reaches a nearby smoke alarm and the horrible banshee scream of the alarm begins. Wouldn’t it be nice if smoke alarms could distinguish between smoke from fire and simply steam/hot air from cooking? I wish.

It’s up to Arthur Brault and his associates now! Let’s hope they tackle this issue with their new Lum smoke alarm light bulb combo.  One last thing; compact fluorescent light bulbs won’t be the only ones usable.  I foresee LED light bulbs usurping CFLs as companions to the Lum.

Factory in China Makes Light BulbsLight bulb manufacturers in the US are shutting down the factories that produce incandescent light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs are taking the place of incandescents, and Chinese factories are taking the place of US factories. Jobs are being sent overseas to save on the cost of compact fluorescent light bulb manufacturing. We could certainly use the jobs in our economy, but for now we must be content with the energy and money savings associated with energy efficient light bulbs.

The cost of doing business in the US is about 10% higher than in China. That makes it very attractive for companies needing bulk manufacturing manpower. The loss of industry and jobs in the US associated with the rise of energy efficient light bulbs is significant, and probably due to the legislation passed in 2007 which bans incandescent light bulbs by 2014. When the legislation was being passed everyone spoke about how many jobs would be created in the US. They must not have considered the prospect of jobs going to China instead; if they had, perhaps some preventative measures could have been put in place.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs were invented here in the US by GE engineer Ed Hammer. These energy efficient light bulbs are partially to blame themselves, as they require significantly more manual labor to create than incandescent light bulbs. Manual labor in China costs pennies, and Hammer’s invention was destined to live beyond our borders from the start.

Perhaps if consumers showed great preference for items that are “Made in USA”, some of the China factories would return to the US. It’d certainly be a much-needed influx of work and cash flow into our struggling economy. At least we’re saving on our energy bills, right?

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