So long to 60W, 40W bulbs

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If you're a lighting traditionalist who prefers incandescent bulbs in your lamps or other fixtures, it's time to stock up on 60- and 40-watt bulbs. Production will cease Jan. 1 as a result of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Stores are allowed to sell their remaining stock, which means you'll still be able to find them for the first few months of 2014, said Robert Jackson, electrical department supervisor at the Home Depot in Ohio Township. But then they'll go the way of 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and 75-watters in 2013.

Consumers will still be able to buy specialty bulbs such as 3-way lights, candelabra lamps for chandeliers and holiday lights of any kind. But with all the advances in compact fluorescent and light-emitting diode bulbs, Mr. Jackson wonders why anyone would still prefer incandescents. Although their initial cost is lower, they are only about 10 percent efficient, giving off most of their energy in heat. A 100-watt incandescent light that is on all the time can add $10 a month to your electric bill, he said. In comparison, CFLs and LEDs provide the same amount of light as incandescents while using one-fifth and one-seventh the amount of energy, respectively. And they last 25 to 50 times longer, saving money in the long run.

One of the early criticisms of CFLs was that their light was not as "warm" as incandescents. Manufacturers have responded by offering three types of CFLs: warm, bright white and daylight, which is recommended for needlework and other detail-oriented tasks. LED lights for indoor use are even better, he said, creating a warm light that is almost indistinguishable from an incandescent.

Prices for both types have come down substantially in the past two or three years, Mr. Jackson said. To make CFLs even more affordable, Duquesne Light offers rebates to its customers on CFL bulbs purchased at home-improvement and other big-box stores. The utility also offers a free kit containing CFL bulbs, night lights and a surge protector with power controls in return for taking an online energy use survey at www.duquesnelight.com.

To deal with the environmental effects of mercury in CFLs, Home Depot, Lowe's and other big-box retailers accept burned-out bulbs for recycling. Switching to CFLs and LEDs just makes sense, Mr. Jackson said.

"People need to change their thinking from purchase price to the entire life cycle of the bulb."


Kevin Kirkland: kkirkland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1978.

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