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What to Do When the Government Takes Away Your Lightbulbs CFLs, LEDs, and Other Non-Lightbulb Options

The U.S. government is set to ban incandescent bulbs shortly. Here are some tips on what you can use to cheaply and safely replace them with.


Look up at the ceiling. What kind of bulb is being used to illuminate the room? Chances are you see an aging incandescent, the classic light bulb we all know. But if you live in the European Union, Australia, the United States, or any other number of countries set to phase out traditional light bulbs, you will soon be seeing a lot more compact fluorescent bulbs or light-emitting diodes. Although they are cheap, CFLsare filled with mercury and often emit harsh lighting, and LEDs are still on the pricey side. So what's a concerned, light-savvy consumer to do? The short answer: Hang tight.

First, a bit of history. Incandescent bulbs (Thomas Edison's bulb) generate light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until the bulb glows. The problem is that there is a low ratio of visible light produced versus heat loss when compared to efficient alternatives like CFLs and LEDs. And in a world that is increasingly concerned with saving energy, that inefficiency won't do. Brazil, Venezuela, the European Union, and Australia are all in the midst of phasing out incandescent bulbs; Argentina, Russia, Canada, Malaysia, and the United States all plan to phase out the bulbs in the next few years.


The CFL bulb, as you likely know, is a fluorescent lamp that gives off the same amount of visible light as an incandescent but uses less power and has a longer life. The bulbs are cheap, to boot, with some costing under $2. But there are a few disadvantages to CFLs—they contain mercury, which makes their disposal difficult, and they have a different (some would go so far as to say unpleasant) light spectrum than their predecessors.

The next most popular option is LED lighting, a semiconductor light source that recombines electrons with electron holes when the light is turned on, triggering the release of photons in the form of energy. The light's color corresponds to the energy of the photon. Like CFLs, LED bulbs have a longer lifetime and decreased energy consumption compared to incandescents. They also have a much wider range of colors than CFLs, and don't contain mercury.

Sounds perfect. But the technology is still in its infancy. Just last May, Philips released what it calls the first LED replacement for the common 60-watt household bulb—a 12-watt LED dubbed the Endura. Philips's bulb is a direct swap-in for a 60-watt incandescent, and it has a lifespan of 25,000 hours. Pricing has not yet been announced, but a 16-watt Endura bulb retails for $65.95 on Amazon.

The first dimmable swap-in LED was also recently announced by Lemnis Lighting, which last October released the 6W Pharox60 bulb, a light source that is 90 percent more energy efficient and 25 times longer-lasting than a 60-watt incandescent. Once again, though, the price isn't quite there yet; the bulb retails for $60 $30. That's cheap when the bulb's lifespan is taken into account, but that kind of reasoning isn't usually employed in the aisles of a drug store.

There are other options. A company called Vu1 recently debuted its ESL light bulb, a dimmable, low-energy bulb that retails for $20 and that features less harsh lighting than CFLs, and lasts for 10,000 hours. (An ESL bulb uses accelerated electrons to light up a phosphor coating on the inside of a bulb). The first units, which are designed to replace 65-watt incandescents, will be released in 2011 and 2012. But ESL technology simply doesn't have the muscle of major lighting companies behind it.

In the long term, LEDs will probably win out—as soon as companies like Philips can lower the price to a point where purchasing them doesn't have to be a major household decision.

Articles
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

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The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

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