The End of Incandescence

We take a look at Edison’s original incandescent bulb as it becomes a thing of the past.

The average incandescent bulb lasts 1,000 hours, while the average CFL has a life span of 10,000 hours. Image: Veer

New government energy efficiency standards have arrived, requiring that light bulbs use 25% less electricity. The means Edison’s classic incandescent is giving way to more environmentally friendly bulbs,like compact fluorescents (CFLs), and LEDs, which lower energy costs up to 75%. To honor the 100-watt incandescent, we’ve compiled a list of historical facts, good green know-how, and money-saving opportunities all about the light bulb.

  • Year Humphry Davy demonstrated the arc lamp, a light bulb precursor: 1806
  • Number of materials Edison tested to find the right filament to electrically produce light in his bulb: 1,600
  • Year that all bulbs — incandescent, CFL, and LED — on the market will be required to use 25% less energy: 2014
  • Number of watts a CFL bulb needs to produce the same light as a 60w incandescent: 13
  • Amount of mercury waste produced by fluorescent bulbs in landfills: nearly 30,000 pounds
  • Number of sealed plastic bags the EPA recommends wrapping a CFL in before disposal: 2

LEDs are likely to be the future of energy-efficient lighting. But we’re not there yet. The chief factorrestricting more widespread LED adoption: high price.