Consumer lighting giant Osram Sylvania has just released the 2013 edition of its Socket Survey — considered “an industry benchmark” and “the only nationwide measure of public attitudes about energy-efficient lighting and awareness of lighting legislation — and, as usual, the results are fraught with excitement, optimism, fear, conflict, and all-around bewilderment.
In addition to the shocking discovery that Millennials don’t really think about light bulbs that much, the survey found that only four in 10 respondents are aware that on Jan. 1, 40W and 60W incandescent bulbs, the most popular light bulbs in America, will join energy-wasting compatriots, 75W and 100W incandescent bulbs, in A-shape heaven when their domestic manufacture and import completely ceases.
And what about those who are aware that 40W and 60W bulbs will slowly (or not-so-slowly) fade away from store shelves as part of the final phase-out stage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007? What are a decent chunk of them planning on doing in the beginning of the New Year?
Heading out to IKEA to stock up on cheap CFLs (not for much longer!)? Investing in high-quality and affordable LED models from the likes of Philips, Cree, or Sylvania? Dedicating an entire weekend afternoon to a house-wide light bulb switch-out?
Nah, an estimated 30 percent of these informed consumers will be raiding the aisles of your local big box and hardware stores, sweaty and wild-eyed, grabbing all of the 40W and 60W bulbs that they can get carry. From there, they’ll take their loot home and unload it discreetly in the garage before transporting it to an oversized hunting case in the basement where a sizable cache of incandescent bulbs, even a few remaining 100-watters phased-out in 2012, are kept under lock and key.
A majority (46 percent) who don’t plan on stockpiling incandescents as a result of the final phase-out, “plan” to switch, not surprisingly, to CFLs. Twenty-four percent of those polled expressed an affinity toward more efficient but also more expensive LEDs; 13 percent are going the halogen route.
While less than half of consumers polled realize that the final phase-out will kick-in on the first of the year, 64 percent are “generally aware” that there an incandescent phase-out has been occuring for the past three years, which is something … better vaguely conscious than completely unconscious, I suppose. This is also a big leap from last year when 52 percent of Americans were “generally aware” of the situation. In 2008, that number was 21 percent.
Similar to last year, brightness (92 percent), life span (87 percent), energy consumption (82 percent), and price (82 percent) were among the chief concerns of those switching out incandescents for new bulbs. Respondents also strongly favored light bulbs that are manufactured domestically.
And this is interesting: for the small number (30 percent) of respondents who claimed to own LEDs, only 11 percent of them own stand-alone LED bulbs meant to replace standard incandescents — a majority of these LEDS (55 percent) are in Christmas light form.
Click here to read Osram Sylvania's 2013 Socket Survey in its entirety.
And in other incandescent phase-out news, Home Depot, the world's largest seller of light bulbs, has created an intriguing map that combines 2010 U.S. Census data and a year of combined LED/CFL sales information to spotlight the 10 largest markets for energy-efficient light bulb consumption (per capita) in the country: Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, and Pittsburgh all top the list as do Washington D.C. and two major metro areas in Florida.
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Bike share programs have revolutionized transportation in some of the country's largest cities, like Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Miami Beach and Boston. For a daily or annual fee (usually around $7 or $75 respectively), users can check out a bike for about 30 minutes at a stand-alone kiosk, ride it around the city, and then check it in at any other kiosk in the system with no extra charge. The idea has been popular overseas since 2007 and there are now massive programs in cities like Paris (16,000 bikes), London (8,000), and Hangzhou, China (65,000). <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/27/citi-bike-share-program-launches_n_3342202.html" target="_blank">New York launched it's own 10,000-bike version, Citi Bike, earlier this year</a>. Many other cities (like Portland, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles) have programs in the works.
The Electric Car
Electric cars are finally starting to gain some traction and become reasonably affordable. <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/cnbc-and-cnn-tesla-model-s-review-2013-2">The Tesla Model S</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/nyt-vs-tesla-feud-reaches-end-of-road_n_2720770.html">subject to some recent bickering</a>, has a range of about 275 miles on a single charge and a starting price tag around $50,000. <a href="http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car.html?seo=goo_|_GM+Chevy+Retention_|_GG-RTN-Chevy-Volt-BP-SN-Exact_|_Quotes+%26+Pricing_|_chevy%20volt%20price">The Chevy Volt</a>, an electric hybrid vehicle, has a range of about 35 miles before a gas engine kicks in. The all-electric <a href="http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/index?dcp=ppn.63023882.&dcc=0.240189300">Nissan Leaf</a> gets an equivalent to 99 mpg. But the main concern is the youth of the industry. At home charging stations are recommended for most electric vehicles, but there isn't a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/electric-car-charging-stations_n_2002448.html">widespread public system</a> that can rival gas stations, making long distance trips more difficult.
LEED Building Standards
The U.S. Green Building Council's <a href="http://new.usgbc.org/leed">Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design</a> system (LEED, for short) has revolutionized eco-conscious building initiatives across the globe. Companies looking to pump up their environmental track record are <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/business/global/international-interest-grows-in-green-building-certification.html">spending time and money</a> to have their buildings certified green. LEED projects <a href="http://new.usgbc.org/leed/applying-leed">are in progress in 135 different countries</a>, and more than half of certified square footage is outside the U.S. A USA Today report criticized the system as <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/24/green-building-leed-certification/1650517/">being too lenient for some buildings</a>, which only need to get 40 points out of 100 to receive a certification.
Cheaper Alternative Energy
The cost for renewable energy <a href="http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/renewable-energy-costs-falling">continues to fall</a> and is starting to become much more economically competitive with fossil fuels. New reports from the <a href="http://www.irena.org/home/index.aspx?PriMenuID=12&mnu=Pri">International Renewable Energy Agency</a> show the cost of solar falling more than 60 percent in the past few years alone. Increasing competition has helped push the price down, particularly with solar as U.S. and European manufacturers struggle to keep up with <a href="http://qz.com/41166/how-germanys-energy-transformation-has-turned-into-a-crisis/">the pricing of Chinese solar panels</a>. <a href="http://go.bloomberg.com/multimedia/wind-innovations-drive-down-costs-stock-prices/">Wind power has also gotten consistently cheaper.</a>
Reusable Bags/Plastic Bag Bans
Single-use plastic bags have been outlawed in a few major cities across the country like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/seattle-plastic-bag-ban_n_1159154.html">Seattle </a>and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/san-francisco-plastic-bag_n_1881889.html">San Francisco</a>, and others like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/05/new-year-new-bag-fee-in-d_n_410344.html">Washington D.C.</a> have instituted a per-bag tax. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/world/asia/09iht-plastic.1.9097939.html?_r=0">China imposed a nationwide ban in 2008</a>. Why get rid of them? They're rarely recycled, <a href="http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm">according to the EPA</a>. They take <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/06/will_my_plastic_bag_still_be_here_in_2507.html">a really, really long time to break down</a>. And we humans use between <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/weekinreview/01basics.html">100 billion and a trillion annually</a>. But people should be wary and keep grocery bags clean - a 2012 study found a connection <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/plastic-bag-ban_n_2641430.html">between reusable bags and a spike in E. coli infections.</a>
Sustainable fashion has been <a href="http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Eco_Fashion">in vogue and on the radar</a> since the early 1990s, but it's only gone mainstream recently. Synthetic fibers like polyester produce significantly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/kingston-university-fashion-students_n_1312724.html">more carbon emissions than organic cotton</a>, and quite a few large brands were found to use <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/chemicals-in-fast-fashion-greenpeace-toxic-thread_n_2166189.html">some harsh chemicals to dye and manufacture</a> their garments. Either way, ethical and ecological clothing is catching on. H&M is the <a href="http://sustainability.thomsonreuters.com/2012/11/28/socially-responsible-company-hm-leads-the-way-as-worlds-biggest-organic-cotton-user/">biggest user of organic cotton</a> in the world, and brands like Nike and Zara have followed suit.
Better Ways To Throw Stuff Away
The average American throws about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/food-waste-americans-throw-away-food-study_n_1819340.html">40 percent of their food </a> away every year, and nearly 100 cities have launched composting programs to try and keep it out of landfills. Curbside composting has spread across the country from uber-green San Francisco, which started their program 15 years ago and now collects <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/09/why-doesnt-your-city-have-curbside-composting">more than 600 tons of compost daily</a>. Of the 250 million tons of trash created in the U.S. in 2010, <a href="http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm">34 percent of it was diverted</a> to composting or recycling programs, according to the EPA.
Lightbulbs have changed quite a bit lately. Compact fluorescent lamps were introduced as highly efficient alternatives to traditional bulbs before 100, 75, 60 and 40-watt incandescent lightbulbs <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/cfl">are phased out of production by 2014.</a> But now, the new lighting revolution is in LED. These high-tech bulbs <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/philips-twenty-20-year-led-lightbulb-prize-department-of-energy_n_1445780.html">last upwards of 20 years</a> and use minimal energy. But, the new <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/how-much-pay-philips-lightbulb_n_1449444.html">Philips 10-watt bulbs cost $60</a>. Each. The good news is that the bulb is so efficient that if every 60-watt incandescent in the country were replaced, <a href="http://energy.gov/articles/department-energy-announces-philips-lighting-north-america-winner-l-prize-competition">$3.9 billion and 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions</a> would be saved in one year.
Community Gardens / Local Food Movement
Community gardening isn't really that new, but the local food movement is. The demand for <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2008817652_pacificplife15.html">plots in p-patches</a> or local green spaces has skyrocketed in the past few years as people opt out of GMOs and out-of-season produce (<a href="http://grist.org/locavore/local-haterade-authors-say-locavores-do-more-harm-than-good">which some argue is actually more carbon friendly</a>). Hyper-dense New York has <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/garden/urban-gardens-grow-everything-except-gardeners.html?pagewanted=all">plans to reclaim vacant lots for urban agriculture</a> under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml">PlaNYC initiative</a>. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the local food industry to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/locally-grown-food_n_1092146.html">be $4.8 billion in 2008 and upwards of $7 billion in 2011</a>.
Death isn't the best thing for the environment. Cremation sends more than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/green-funerals-options_n_1880096.html">6.8 million tons of carbon emissions</a> into the atmosphere every year, caskets take a long time to biodegrade and burial leads to methane emission (<a href="http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html">the second most prevalent greenhouse gas</a>). But <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/22/green-funerals-how-to-mak_n_97940.html">environmentally-friendly burial options</a> are becoming more prevalent. Wicker and cardboard coffins can replace traditional wood, and dry ice is used rather than formaldehyde. <a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/finding-a-provider/SearchProviderSearchForm?mainsearch=Caskets&mainsearchField=OrgProductType&action_searchproviders=Search">And green burial services</a> are popping up around the globe to curb post-mortem emissions.