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.

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