60-Second Earth

Welcome to the Year of the Lightbulb

Get ready to buy lightbulbs by lumens rather than watts. David Biello reports

Happy New Year! And welcome to the year of light…bulbs. Why you ask? Well, it's not just because LEDs lit up the iconic New Year's ball drop here in New York City again. No, it's because this is the year that lighting will finally become more efficient.

The old, incandescent lightbulb turns 90 percent of the electricity it uses into heat rather than light. And in 2012, it will be phased out in the U.S.—or at least radically upgraded. Lightbulbs will be required to meet new energy efficiency standards. So the old 100-watt lightbulb will have to produce the same light using just 72 watts.

Lighting is the original killer app of modern energy—and one that the world continues to embrace. By adopting lighting technologies that use less energy the nations of the world will cut down on the fossil fuels, often coal, burned to produce that light.

So whether it's new, long-lasting but expensive light-emitting diodes, the swirls of a compact fluorescent or just more efficient incandescents, 2012 will be the year that lighting's environmental impact gets lighter.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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