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By Brian Clark Howard


What Do Consumers Really Think About Efficient Lighting?

There's been major progress with CFLs and LEDs in 2009, though misconceptions remain.


The second annual Sylvania Socket Survey was just released, illuminating consumer attitudes and behaviors when it comes to energy-efficient, green lighting. According to the report, a whopping 74% of respondents are now using compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) , although the same fraction are not aware of the impending congressional ban on incandescent bulbs that begins in 2012. Perhaps not surprisingly, there still isn't that much knowledge about next-generation


The study was commissioned by lighting company Osram Sylvania, a division of international giant Siemens AG. It was a survey conducted over a three-day period in November, in which more than 300 interviews were conducted with homeowners and renters nationwide. Adult respondents were surveyed via phone, using random digit dial techniques.

The news comes at a key time, when delegates from around the world are meeting in Copenhagen to try to hammer out a goal for reducing impact from global warming. Many have pointed out that strong commitments to energy efficiency can go a long way to reducing emissions, and better lighting is definitely a big step in that direction. The public is perhaps more aware of light emitting diodes at this time of year as well, given the proliferation of affordable LED holiday lights, and their use in high-profile projects like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

LEDs have also received some other press this week, with some blaming car accidents -- and at least one death -- on their use in traffic lights: although LEDs are much more efficient than incandescent lighting, the fact that they remain cool to the touch diminishes their ability to melt away snow. The story shouldn't be a reason to stop the march to more efficient lighting technology, but it does serve as a warning that there can be a downside to any new technology, and we need a broad approach to problem solving, with as many stakeholders as possible. Perhaps a modified design for LED street lights may be in the wings.

Other key findings from the Sylvania study, from the press release:

* Almost three quarters (74%) say they have switched a light bulb for more energy efficiency in 2009, compared to 62% last year.

* The amount of energy a bulb uses is an important factor for almost all (91%). (Not statistically different from last year, 88%.)

* CFLs continue to be second only to traditional bulbs. Most (71%) say they have CFLs in their home.

* Most (79%) say they are likely to purchase CFLs in the future, many citing energy efficiency as their primary benefit (32%).

* Halogen (40%) and LEDs (12%) are less popular. [29% reported having LEDs, but only 12% said they had LEDs in sockets or in both sockets and electronics.]

* Price (31%) and mercury (27%) continue to be the primary concerns about CFLs.

* Almost three quarters of consumers (74%) still do not know that Congress banned traditional incandescent light bulbs by 2014 -- not statistically different from last year (78% unaware).

* Even fewer (82%) know that 100W bulbs will not be available after January 1, 2012.

* The majority (66%) of consumers say they will switch to a new technology light bulb.

* Only 13% say they will buy up extra 100W bulbs and 16% say they will switch to lower wattage incandescent light bulbs.

* Those who say they'll switch are most likely to switch to CFLs (57%), although many are unsure (25%).


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