Lighting the green way

Lighting the green way
LEWISTON - The incandescent light bulb is on it's way to being 'lights out.' The aim is to encourage the use and development of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.

The technology inside a light bulb has been the same since Thomas Edison's 1879 invention.

"It hasn't changed," said Main Street Lighting owner Ron Bishop. "The shape of the bulb has changed but the mechanics are all there. It's the same as it has been for 100 years, going on 200 years. So we need to come up with something better. It's not efficient."

And that 'something different' is well on it's way. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires general purpose light bulbs to be at least 25% more energy-efficient than current incandescent bulbs by 2014.

"Do I need to start stashing thousands of 100 watt light bulbs in my basement? It's nothing you have to do," said Bishop. "You'll still be able to get a bulb that's an equal replacement."

The most common alternative is the fluorescent bulb.

"A 23-watt bulb in a fluorescent version is equal to a 100-watt standard bulb," said Bishop. "So you're burning a lot less energy, but you have a lot of problems, in my opinion. Petroleum products, a little bit of mercury, you've got phosphorous. They're not supposed to be in enclosed fixtures, not supposed to have them outside and they take three to five minutes to come up to full temperature.

Bishop said he's not aware of a way to recycle fluorescent bulbs. So when people throw them away, those toxic elements are being put into landfills.

But there is another alternative, Bulbrite light bulbs meet government guidelines and don't have the toxic elements of a fluorescent bulb.

"If you go to the new eco-bulbs that just came out what you've got is a little bit of tungsten, some halogen gas and some glass. And that's it," said Bishop. "So which one do you really want to put in the landfill?"

Bishop said whichever bulbs you might choose, it's a step in the right direction.

"Saying we want to be energy-saving, that's great," said Bishop. "Here, we're lucky, because we have hydro-power. A lot of it's just water running and we're creating electricity. But if you think about people using coal or nuclear power, you know these are things we don't really want to be using a lot of. So anything we can do to lighten up our carbon footprint here is a good thing."

(For more on Green lighting and other environmental friendly products and services visit the Inland Northwest Green Fair Friday and Saturday at the SEL Event Center in Pullman.)