Lights Out:The Incandescent Bulb Fades Into History

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We've been using them all our lives, but the familiar and cheap incandescent bulb is disappearing.
t's hard to see any change here on the showroom floor at Statewide Lighting on South Virginia Street where things look pretty much as they have for almost 40 years.

It's back in the store room that you see the changes. An empty spot on the shelves, for instance, once held 100 watt incandescent bulbs.

They're long gone, phased out in 2012, followed by the 75 watt bulb a year ago.

If you missed those developments, and resisted the new energy efficient alternatives, there's a change coming, one you can't avoid this time.

This new ban affects the most popular bulbs the 40 and 60 watt sizes.

You may still find them on the shelves, but once gone, they won't return.

In their place some choices, the compact florescent, the halogen hybrid and the LED.

Each will cost you more. Some will take longer to pay for themselves.

Choosing which to use requires a little comparison shopping. Forget watts. The new language is lumens, that's the measure of brightness..

"Read the package on how many lumens the different kinds of bulbs put out, not what wattage they use," says Rader Rollins of Statewide Lighting. "When you get home and screw it in, is it bright enough for me? Because that's the idea."

At the moment, Rollins says, the most light for the buck is the curlicue compact florescent. That's what he uses on most of the fixtures in his store where they have to be lit all day.

The downside, other than its looks, it can take a minute or two to reach full brightness.

If that's a problem there's the halogen hybrid, a little more expensive, or the LED which Rollins says is the bulb of the future. Their life can be measured in decades, but at the moment they're still pricey.

Rollins says regardless of the application there will always be an alternative.

And though you may not welcome it, the passing of the incandescent may not be a bad thing after all.

At power costs of 12 cents a day, he says changing from a 50-cent, 60 watt incandescent to its energy efficient alternative could save you $8 dollars a year.

"You were only saving money at that first point of purchase, not on your power bill afterwards."