Brighter than a CFL lightbulb, Answer Man sheds light
Dear Answer Man, can you help me find CFL bulbs that are made in the USA? I want to replace my burned-out incandescent bulbs with CFLs, but it appears that most are made overseas. Also, is it true that incandescent bulbs are being outlawed?
Please hurry! I cut my lip shaving this morning. -- K.K.
To avoid further bloodshed, I moved K.K.'s question to the top of the pile.
When I was a kid in North Dakota, the CFL was an inferior brand of football. Now of course it's short for compact fluorescent lamps, the curly-cue energy efficient bulbs. They were giving them away free at Target Field Saturday afternoon, by the way, to encourage energy conservation .
My wife and I got three! Too bad K.K. wasn't there.
Most CFLs are made in China, like most everything else, but I've found one American maker, called Lights of America , based in Walnut, Calif. The toll-free number is 1-800-377-4545. If any readers know of other U.S. manufacturers, let me know.
Some people say CFL bulbs can't truly be "green" when they have to shipped here from the other side of the planet. There's a certain garage logic to this, but like most garage logic, it's wrong. CFLs are far more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and though they present challenges (including cost and disposal ), they're a better choice for the planet.
Unless you believe this is all a government conspiracy, CFL bulbs save about $40 in energy costs over the life of the bulb, use about 75 percent less electricity, last 10 times longer and produce 75 percent less heat.
General purpose incandescent bulbs will become obsolete because of tougher minimum standards for energy efficiency, but it's not quite correct to say they'll be illegal in the U.S. as of 2014 . The rules are being tightened beginning next year through 2014; whether incandescent bulbs remain viable, we'll see. Various decorative and specialty bulbs will be exempted. By 2020, when more restrictions kick in, it's safe to assume that standard incandescent bulbs will be a dim memory.
Many other countries, including Canada, are explicitly phasing them out within the next few years, however, and California also has passed legislation to phase them out by 2018.
The Washington Post had a great story and video last year on the closing of General Electric's last incandescent bulb factory in the U.S. Check this column online for the weblink.