Many Americans still buy incandescent light bulbs that waste 90 percent of their energy as heat, and so the U.S. Department of Energy decided to search for next-generation replacements by holding a light bulb contest. Now the first and only competitor for the $10 million Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize has won and is preparing to roll out its product in stores by 2012.
The Philips LED bulb uses just 10 watts to create the same amount of light as a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb. If the winning bulb replaced all 60-watt incandescent bulbs in the U.S., it could save about $3.9 billion in the country's annual electric bill and avoid creating 22 million tons of carbon emissions.
"We looked at the L Prize challenge as an opportunity to innovate and develop an energy efficient alternative to a product that has remained largely unchanged for over a century," said Zia Eftekhar, CEO of Philips Lighting North America. "The fact that we are the first and only company capable of submitting a product and completing 18 months of rigorous testing not only underscores our commitment to innovation and quality, it highlights our ability to bring meaningful leading technologies into the mainstream."
Besides meeting requirements for energy efficiency and light output, Philips' bulb can imitate the "warm" white light of incandescent bulbs. Its lifetime of 25,000 hours is 25 times greater than a typical incandescent bulb.
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"The L Prize challenges the best and brightest minds in the U.S. lighting industry to make the technological leaps forward that can greatly reduce the money we spend to light our homes and businesses each year," said Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary. "Not only does the L Prize challenge innovative companies like Philips to make LED technology even more energy efficient, it also spurs the lighting industry to make LEDs affordable for American families."
Such lighting alternatives may help Americans ease into a future where all incandescent light bulbs must meet federal standards for energy efficiency after Jan. 1, 2012. But even slower adopters can still cling to their incandescent light bulbs beyond that date; Philips already has a 60-watt incandescent light bulb on the market that meets the new standards.