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Ask Umbra: Watts up with Lightbulbs?

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Q.

Dearest Umbra,

I know you've written about lightbulbs before, but it seems like there are lots of new options on store shelves. Are incandescents even being sold anymore? And what about LED lights? I tried some a few years ago and, in addition to being hella expensive, the light they gave off was cold and blue and institutional - I couldn't stand it. Are there other low-energy varieties? Which kinds of bulbs work with dimmers? Can you - ahem - shed some light on this confusing subject?

Liza E. Battle Creek, Mich.


A.

Dearest Liza,

Thanks for reminding me that it's time for our semi-demi-hexi-annual revisitation of the lightbulb topic. And what better day than Earth Day to undertake this quest? For years, "change a lightbulb" has been cited as a simple step people can take to help the planet. Now even that command is starting to feel complicated, a state of affairs that does not help our cause.

But I promise it's not really as complicated as all that. For those with short attention spans, the answer is: Go buy LEDs.

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