Sioux Falls, SD
Say "goodbye" to 2012 and the 75-watt light bulb. But while you may miss the prices of the old incandescent bulb, there's still plenty of good news in the switch to illuminate your new year.
Tucked in the back of the light bulb aisle in this hardware store, you can still pick up plenty of 75-watt bulbs. Even the 100-watts, which were phased out earlier this year, are on the shelves in limited quantity.
"The 75-watts are going to go faster than the 100s. A lot of people hadn't been using 100s unless your basement workshop kind of thing; not the standard for a light fixture or bedside lamp," Keith Dubbelde of Ace Hardware said.
Later this year the 60 and 40-watt bulbs will also be phased out. The good news is although your initial investment in an energy-saving bulb is more, you'll save money in the long run.
"It's very hard for people. When they're used to spending a couple of bucks, $3 or $4 at max, it's real tough to get used to buying a single bulb for $50," Dubbelde said.
"How long do they last? If you buy a bulb and put it in a baby's nursery, you're probably not going to have to change that bulb 'til Junior is ready to go to college," Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports said.
Consumer Reports put the $50 dollar LED light bulbs to the test and found they do last as long as promised. They are also under warranty for 10 years; that's about half their expected life span.
"For every dollar you spend to power a regular light bulb, it's only going to cost you 20 cents to power an LED," Kuperszmid Lehrman said.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are less expensive than the LED lights. Manufacturers are working out the kinks in the CFLs; they're making them look more like incandescent bulbs and turn on more quickly. And while some consumers may be stocking up on the old-fashioned bulbs for now, that's just a temporary solution.
"I think just like anything else, it's going to take a while to get used to. But long term, I think everyone is going to be fine with it; it's just something we have to do," Steve Johnson with Consumer Reports said.
Consumers must also learn a whole new language for the new bulbs. Forget about watts and remember lumens and color temperature. Lumens is going to tell you brightness and for a 75 watt bulb, you want to look for 1,100 lumens. Color temperature tells you the color of the bulb: yellow, white or blue.
Xcel Energy has partnered with local retailers to offer compact fluorescent light bulbs for as little as $1 each. The discounted bulbs are still available at many retailers.
Your Money Matters