Uncle Sam tells Thomas Edison to move over

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Your average, run of the mill incandescent light bulb lasts about 1,500 hours… the same amount of time of the bulb developed by Thomas Edison just about 137 years ago lasted.  Thanks to the power of innovation, nearly every single aspect of our lives has improved since 1877.  We no longer have life expectancies of less than 50 years, and have traded in those pesky horse and buggies for quicker forms of transportation (hopefully public transit, a bike, or a Prius).  Yet we continue to light our homes with bulbs designed more than a century ago that waste 90% of the energy they consume.

In no way do I aim to belittle the accomplishments of Thomas Edison – he obviously did something very, very right considering that we cling so tightly to his invention!  But with better options out there, it’s time that we all move on.  And, come January, we’ll really have no other option.  Starting in 2014, importing or manufacturing 40 and 60 Watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned in the United States.

Change is never easy, and perhaps that’s one of the reason we’ve hung onto the incandescent bulb for so long.  We love its soft, warm light as well as the fact that they don’t make us look like we have the flu, as fluorescent lights often can.  Taking the long view also seems to be a difficult ask… another reason we haven’t been able to let cheap incandescent bulbs go in favor of LEDs that cost more upfront but ultimately save us money.

Thankfully, LEDs can now help to address both of these issues.  Bright-white-only LEDs are a thing of the past.  More and more companies are now manufacturing LEDs to match the color temperature we know and love.  And, while they still cost significantly more than incandescents, prices of LEDs are falling as well, making the amount of time you have to wait for the savings you get to pay for the cost of the bulb shrink as well.

So, resist the urge to stock up on incandescents this holiday season and usher in the long-awaited era of the LED.  Thomas Edison won’t hold it against you.  We promise.

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