Edison’s invention may stay around a little longer now that GE has begun work on creating a high efficiency incandescent light bulb that will be as energy efficient as a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and deliver high-quality light output.
Over the last four years GE has invested over $200 million in the development of their high efficiency incandescent (HEI). GE has set a target for these new lamps at initial production to be nearly twice as efficient as current incandescents and deliver 30 Lumens per watt. Their later goal is for the HEI bulb to be four times as efficient and comparable to CFL bulbs.
In addition to desirable light quality, GE says the new HEI lamp will have instant-on convenience and be priced less than current CFLs. Don’t worry about waiting for the CFLs you just bought to burn out; these new HEI lamps won’t be on the market until 2010.
Here’s an excerpt from a great article about how switching CFLs on and off can shorten their life and how long you should burn your CFL.
“Switching CFLs on and off does shorten lamp life, but [the] conclusion that they need a three- to five-hour on-cycle to maintain a reasonably long life does not appear to be correct. Robert Clear, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Enviromental Building News that it has been difficult to get data on this question, but a 1998 study of electronically ballasted CFLs found a 20% reduction in lamp life if the on-time was reduced to one hour. With significantly shorter on-times, the lamp life is dramatically reduced: with 15-minute on-time cycling, lamp life dropped 70% and with five-minute on-time lamp life dropped 85% (which brings the lamp life close to that of incandescent light bulbs). “This suggests that you should consider replacing incandescents with CFLs in any application where the lamp is on an average of [at least] about 10 minutes per start,” said Clear. He added that “every switch cycle is equivalent to about 6 minutes of lamp life. This means that you should turn a CFL off if you think it won’t be turned on again for another five minutes or so.” This approach should also maximize electricity and cost savings.”
Did you know that not all CFLs can be used with a dimmer and that some can not be used in an enclosed lamp? Peggy links to a wonderful page on the Enviromental Defense website that finds the right bulb for your needs. This is definitely a page to bookmark.
One last note, CFLs contain mercury (about 5 milligrams) and should not be thrown into your household garbage. To find out what to do first check the Earth 911 website (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code for everything from paint to televisions) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options.
If you live near an IKEA, you are in luck, they offer CFL recycling bins in stores across the world. In their fiscal 2006 year, IKEA recycled 156,301 pounds of CFLs.