Americans soon will be bidding farewell to the standard incandescent bulbs that have lighted homes for decades. Manufacturing already has ceased on the 100-watt light bulb.
"We have just entered the year 2012, which means the process of phasing out the incandescent light bulb has begun," said Amy Vetter, interior designer at The Lighting Gallery on Access Road. "In the effort to reduce energy usage, newer bulbs must be 30 percent more energy efficient."
The first bulb to go is the 100-watt bulb, known in the industry as the 100W A19.
"These bulbs are being replaced with 72W halogen bulbs or 23W compact fluorescent
bulbs," Vetter said. "Both of these bulbs have lower wattages and use less energy but the change in perceived light, the light the eye detects, is minimal."
These new bulbs have two big positives, she said. "They use less energy and have longer lives. Both will eventually create savings for the consumer."
However, the up-front cost does increase.
"The other bulb to be phased out this year is the 50-watt (50W PAR20). This is a directional bulb used in 4-inch recessed can fixtures. It can be replaced by next-generation halogens, 14W compact fluorescents or 8W LED," Vetter said.
Despite consumer confusion about the new bulbs, manufacturers have created replacement products to help ease the transition between the old bulbs and new ones, Vetter said.
"New products are designed to work within many existing fixtures. The new 72W halogen bulb will work well with most lamp shade harps (the metal wiring that attaches below the lamp socket and supports the shade). The compact fluorescent bulbs can also work with lamp shades although not as well with the type that clips to the actual bulb."
There are even compact fluorescent bulbs with three light levels, which are perfect for table and floor lamps, she said.
"Dimmable fluorescents also are available. I have heard many complaints about the look of compact fluorescent, but personally I don't mind them. I also prefer indirect light source, which means the bulbs are mostly hidden from view; all you see is the light, not the source."
Consumers mistakenly associate "fluorescent" with a super bright, white light, Vetter said.
"Consumers want the warm glow, something that makes the home inviting and comfortable, not bright and sterile. If you want the energy savings of the fluorescent but hate the cool color, make sure you get the soft white bulb with a temperature of 2700K. The soft white bulb will produce a light much like the typical incandescent bulb that we are all used to."
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...