Get A Grip, People

I sobbed hysterically when my parents dropped me off at college freshman year, so much so that my contact lenses were covered with bits of errant tissue fibers. This sentiment apparently was not felt universally on campus, as literal hoots and hollers could be heard from nearly every other one of my classmates who finally felt free.

Two years ago, when I decided it was time to leave my job and accept a position at NAA, I tearfully broke the news to my supervisor. He seemed increasingly concerned and began consoling me as my tears turned into full-on crying. Later that day when I had my exit interview with HR, I went so far as to use the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

When I came home for Thanksgiving break last year, my mom told me she had finally gotten a new duvet cover for my bed. The news hit me hard and I welled up with tears, as I expect any normal person would. Sensing this freakish aversion to a minor interior design switcheroo, my mother gently told me we could “deal with it later.”

So clearly, I don’t handle change very well. In the immortal words of my fantasy husband, Kevin Arnold, who you may remember from The Wonder Years, “you fight to hold on. You fight to let go.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that when it comes to incandescent light bulbs, it’s time to let go.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, 100-watt (W) incandescent light bulbs are being phased out beginning October 2012 in favor of more energy efficient alternatives. According to the legislation, 75W bulbs will no longer be sold starting in 2013, followed by 40W and 60W bulbs in 2014.

During this transition, apartment owners must decide which lighting options best suit their needs—preferably minus the waterworks. The two most popular alternatives are LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), both of which are rated based on brightness—or lumens—rather than watts.

The less expensive of the two are CFLs, which are estimated to be 78 percent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. The average 13W bulb costs between $3 and $4 and can last an advertised 8,000 to 10,000 hours. However, the mercury contained inside the bulb can present potential health risks if a CFL breaks.

I’m not sure what sort of a threat this poses compared to, say, sophomore year of college when I ate tuna fish every day for lunch. But either way, the mercury can’t be good.

Alternatively, 12W LED lights retail at approximately $25 per bulb, on average, but have advertised lifetimes of approximately 25,000 hours—or over 20 years—according to manufacturers’ claims. The bulbs also are 80 percent more efficient than incandescent lights.

Many agree that LED lighting is a worthwhile investment over the long term, but the hefty price tag on the front-end creates budget challenges for some.

The switch is coming, whether you like it or not. Grab the tissue box and hop on board.

For information on energy efficient lighting alternatives, check out the article, “LED: Flipping the Switch” in the January issue of units, which mails Jan. 8.