America is warming up to alternatives to incandescent light bulbs.
As familiar A19-style incandescent bulbs are phased out, more consumers are switching to LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs.
"People are starting to accept LEDs," said Jeremy Ludyjan, director of marketing and product development at Bulbrite. "The first stages of the phaseout were 75- and 100-watt bulbs, but they represent a small market share. On Jan. 1, 60- and 40-watt bulbs will be phased out nationwide, too. Sixty-watt bulbs are a big part of the market that's the bulb people really use and that represents a really big change."
Since the beginning of the federally mandated phase-out, consumers have learned a lot about lighting.
"People didn't think about light bulbs," said Cathy Choi, Bulbrite president and chairwoman of the American Lighting Association Education Foundation Board. "Now, more than 18 months later, people are really educated. They do have choices. They can get the same quality of light and save energy. It's a win-win."
Part of that newfound LED attraction is cost. The prices of LED and CFL replacements are coming down. Those bulbs are major energy savers, and that can mean lower energy costs for years to come.
"As technology improves and demand increases, prices start to come down dramatically," Ludyjan said. "We're getting close to critical mass."
Every bulb counts in this household tally. According to 3M, the average 60-watt incandescent bulb costs 40 cents a month in energy use. An LED replacement gives off the same amount of light for under 8 cents a month.
Also, LEDs last on average about 25,000 hours 25 times more than a typical incandescent bulb.
"You pay a little more up front, but the savings really add up," Ludyjan said. "In a year or two, the bulbs will pay for themselves."
The initial investment $20 or $30 per LED bulb gives many consumers pause before fully embracing LEDs. But LED bulbs last many years, even decades.
Trying to make an educated guess at a bulb's potential return on investment can be daunting. To simplify those calculations, Lightopedia.com Bulbrite's educational website offers an Energy Savings Calculator, available online. (Find it under "Tools.")
That site also has many tips on which lights to choose for different tasks.
"People will see more LED replacements that screw into standard sockets as well as full LED fixtures," Ludyjan said. "The next step will be more products that make use of LED technology."
Meanwhile, consumers should start looking for lumens instead of watts when buying bulbs, Choi said. Instead of 60 watts, think 800 lumens.
"It's like nutrition labels 20 years ago" when they were first introduced, she said. "Now, we all read nutrition labels. It will be the same way with lighting."
It seems like summer just started, but it's time to begin thinking about fall vegetables. Transplant seedlings for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and celery.
Sow seeds for head lettuce, parsnips, rutabaga and turnips.
Remove spent flowers on daylilies, roses and other summer bloomers.
After deadheading (removing flowers), fertilize roses to kick-start another bloom cycle; remember to give them a deep watering before feeding.
Dig and divide overcrowded irises and bulbs after the foliage dies back.
Pick caterpillars off tomatoes and other vegetables before they have time to do significant damage.
Blast aphids off plants with a jet of water or squirt them with insecticidal soap. To make your own "bug soap," add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap or Ivory dish washing liquid) to 1 quart water. Put in a spray bottle and shake before using.