Energy savings is a large, important topic in conservation. We use and waste a lot of light in this country, from home to highway to office, from restaurant to theatre, malls, schools and hospitals. We can’t control much about our offices or other structures, but we can control home lighting.

For apartment dwellers, it’s not that big a topic. We are a city known for small spaces. Not as small as Japan, of course, but small enough to have newcomers to the city become dazed in shock and awe over what passes for a bedroom.

Apartment lighting consists of lamp light bulbs and perhaps some overheads. And now we have to bid, except for whatever is left in dusty store bins, a fond farewell to the incandescent light bulb that has been with us since childhood. While a blog in Scientific American called it “The Overly Dramatic Demise of the Light Bulb”, we’re not so sure as, according to CNN, there are about 10 billion light sockets in the country and we’ve been using incandescent bulbs for over 100 years.

When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established new efficiency standards for lighting that required bulbs to use at least 25% less energy, it sealed the doom of incandescents. They may provide warm, cozy, far-reaching light and are cheap and predictable but they use and lose too much energy and are now not legal to manufacture or import. No longer will you hear the familiar tinkling sound of a dead incandescent bulb’s wire filaments inside the glass as you cart it to the trash.

No one is going to come and arrest you for using them, but you will be hard put to find them any longer. The 40 and 60 watt bulbs started being phased out a few years ago. You currently have a choice of halogen, CFL and LED light bulbs. All have pros and cons from cost to their look to energy savings and bulb life. But none create warm light like an incandescent.

Leave it, however, to MIT to be working on a “nanophotonic comeback for incandescent bulbs.” According to Wikipedia, “Nanophotonics or Nano-optics is the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale, and of the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light. It is a branch of optics, optical engineering, electrical engineering, and nanotechnology.” (We had to look this up for you. All right, we had to look this up for me.)

According to MIT News, researchers at MIT and Purdue University (without going into all of the dense scientific processes) seemed to have found a way to combine the traditional warmth of incandescent bulbs with modern technology that results in much greater energy efficiency.

Today, incandescent bulbs are wending their way into becoming quaint history. Tomorrow, they may return in new form and be the next big thing.

Stay tuned.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services