As the calendar turned to 2013, light bulb manufacturers are now required to meet new efficiency standards; light bulbs of traditional wattage of 60 and 40 watts will be replaced with bulbs that have maximum wattage of 43 and 29 watts, respectively. This is the latest phase of the light bulb standard; 100 watt bulbs were phased out starting in 2011 and 75 watt bulbs were phased out in 2012. New bulbs will provide the same amount of light while using less energy and costing less money to operate. Light bulbs already in use in your home are not affected and the standard does not affect all types of light bulbs; specialty bulbs, such as appliance bulbs, 3-way bulbs, and others, are exempt.
So what light bulb options are available? One option is the energy-saving halogen light bulb. These bulbs are a type of incandescent that use gases to improve energy efficiency and are widely available. Another option is the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. CFLs are also widely available and are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs. In fact, according to the California Energy Commission, a 23- to 27-watt CFL provides the same amount of light as a traditional incandescent but consumes 75% less energy. LED bulbs have been slowly gaining popularity in recent years and are said to be more energy efficient than both halogens and CFL bulbs. Although LED bulbs tend to be more expensive, their longer lives and energy savings usually offset the higher cost.
Many online resources as well as the Light Bulb Finder app can help you make the switch to more energy efficient light bulbs.
Since incandescent and LED light bulbs do not contain mercury there is nothing that prohibits you from disposing of them in your regular trash. However, for those of you who enjoy arts and crafts, a quick internet search yields ideas for reusing those light bulbs. CFLs should not be disposed of in the trash and should instead be recycled because of the small amount of mercury found inside of each bulb. Home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, will accept CFLs from residents to dispose of properly. You can also dispose of CFL bulbs at your local household hazardous waste collection facility.
To find a center near you, visit our new and improved one-stop recycling resource, WasteFreeSD.org.