Better Incandescent Light Bulbs

The improvements promised by new lighting technology are leading to improvements in incandescent and fluorescent lights, as those older technologies try to keep up as long as they can. The latest clear incandescent light bulbs cost about $2 each, which is more than you would have paid for a traditional light bulb a year ago. The price increase is well worth it, though, as the new designs are 30 to 50 percent brighter, which translates to an electricity savings of about $5 over the life of the bulb.

Meanwhile, the prices of compact fluorescent bulbs continue to fall, as improved designs require fewer materials to make. Engineers say there is room for improvement in light output there too.

It often happens that technology lives up to its potential only when a new technology threatens to overtake it. In one famous example, audio cassette technology was capable of CD-quality sound all along, but audio cassette manufacturers did not deliver that level of quality until around 1996, after the cassette had already been eclipsed by the audio CD. Improvements in incandescent light bulbs won’t ultimately prevent LED or other new technology from taking over the market, but they can slow down that transition and perhaps allow it to go more smoothly.

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