New York Times on Innovation in the Incandescent Bulbs

The New York Times highlights ongoing innovation in incandescent bulbs ahead of new energy efficiency requirements set to take effect in 2012. Like most people, I assumed that meant widespread switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, but apparently there are still quite a bit of efficiency gains to be had in incandescents,

The first bulbs to emerge from this push, Philips Lighting’s Halogena Energy Savers, are expensive compared with older incandescents. They sell for $5 apiece and more, compared with as little as 25 cents for standard bulbs.

But they are also 30 percent more efficient than older bulbs. Philips says that a 70-watt Halogena Energy Saver gives off the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and lasts about three times as long, eventually paying for itself.

And a physics professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Shawn-Yu Lin, is also seeing improved incandescent performance by using a high-tech, iridium-coated filament that recycles wasted heat. “The technology can get up to six to seven times more efficient,” Mr. Lin said.

As I’ve said before, my main concern with light bulbs is less energy efficiency than durability — I want a light bulb I only have to change every 10 years. Every little step toward that goal is to be applauded, with the energy efficiency options not a bad thing to throw in as well.

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