Back in 2012, the U.S. government started phasing out incandescent light bulbs, in an attempt to turn Americans on to energy-efficient alternatives. The reaction has mostly been underwhelming—incandescents still outsell more efficient alternatives like LEDs and compact fluorescents, and make up 65% of lightbulb shipments, due to leftover inventory from before the bans, along with regulation-compliant halogens.
However, the New York Times reports that two companies are debuting new bulb technologies, hoping to cash in on the desire for the same warm glow as Edison’s big idea in a more environmentally palatable package—if not the relatively low price.
The first entrant is called Finally, as in: Finally, here’s an eco-friendly, somewhat cheap (8$) bulb that won’t make your room glow like a chain-store pharmacy. These bulbs pump a magnetic field through a tiny piece of solid mercury, which creates ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light agitates a phosphor coating on the inside of the glass, emitting visible light.
Another technology called Vu1 creates light using technology similar to the cathode rays that used to power old TVs. It was supposed to debut three years ago, but has had some manufacturing issues. Vu1 has only designed flood-style bulbs for recessed fixtures so far. Each bulb costs $15, is mercury-free, and is supposed to have a warm light that’s similar to incandescent bulbs.
In the meantime, if you are an environmental scofflaw, you can get incandescent bulbs on the internet for a little more than a dollar apiece.