Edison to Hulger: The First Designer Energy Efficient Light Bulb

Energy efficient light bulbs are a hot topic right now (or I should say they have been over the past several years) as we move away from the use of incandescent light bulbs. Although we have been using incandescent light bulbs for years, over time and through research we have learned that they are not good for the environment and not energy efficient.

Let’s take a brief moment to remember the invention of the light bulb. The light bulb was invented by an Astronomer and Chemist Warren de la Rue 40 years before Edison was issued a patent for creating it. Edison did however spend many years working on the light bulb and improving on Warren de la Rue’s original invention, testing platinum and other metal filaments instead of carbon; in fact there is a famous quote that you have probably read or heard…

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Edison

Okay, back to 2012… Incandescent bulbs are the most common type of light bulb used in homes accounting for 85% of household lighting. As we move into the “future” and focus on energy efficiency throughout the world, phasing out the use of incandescent light bulbs has been happening on a country and state level for several years. Brazil and Venezuela started to phase out incandescent bulbs in 2005 and the United States was not far behind in 2007. Certain states have taken a stance on incandescent bulbs as well. California plans to phase out the incandescent bulbs completely by 2018, although the United States has plans for phasing out the incandescent bulb by 2014. The US Lighting Energy Policy has played a key role in the transition to more energy efficient light bulbs with the priority of moving towards increased efficiency in order to lower green house gas emissions and energy use. Other types of light bulbs have been in production such as the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting as an alternative to incandescent light bulbs.

Compact fluorescent lamps use 80% less energy than an incandescent light bulb, however they cost more money. Some consumers focus on the pricing and up front costs of the compact fluorescent lamps although they last 6,000 to 15,000 hours as apposed to 750 to 1,000 hours when using an incandescent bulb. Compact fluorescents can cost as low as $5 a bulb to $30 depending on the wattage.

screen shot from www.plumen.com

In response to the energy efficiency conversation and cost of bulbs, the British design firm Hulger, states the following on their website: “Make the bulb attractive and people will spend a bit more and enjoy a better quality of light and a design they appreciate every day. Glass tubes can be bent in many different shapes so why are there thousands of manufacturers but only three designs?”. This is a valid and interesting point. Why not experiment with the form of a light bulb? The bulb hasn’t been redesigned in years, or approached from a form over function perspective, and the timing of addressing this design problem couldn’t have been better. Hulger released the world’s first designer energy efficient light bulb, the Plumen 001, in 2010. Since the release, the Plumen 001 has won two prestigious design awards; the Brit Insurance Design of The Year award in 2011 and the Black Pencil at the D&AD awards in 2011 as well.

Do you use energy efficient bulbs in your house? Would you spend extra money to have a beautifully designed version of the energy efficient bulb?

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