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Americans getting turned on by new light bulb tech

The annual Osram Sylvania lighting survey finds growing awareness of the 100-watt incandescent phase-out and interest in trying more efficient alternative products.

The demise of the 100-watt incandescent bulb's is slowly sinking in and new light bulb tech is popping up on people's radar.

For the first time, a majority of U.S. residents surveyed were aware that the traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb will no longer be available next year, according to an annual survey done by bulb manufacturer Osram Sylvania. And 56 percent said they were "excited about the phase-out because Americans will use more energy efficient bulbs," according to the company.

Starting in 2012, incandescent bulbs will no longer be able to meet energy efficient requirements set out in the 2007 energy law. The phase-out begins with 100-watt bulbs no longer being manufactured and then progresses to less bright bulbs.

A bit more than half of Americans surveyed (55 percent) were aware of the phase out, although that still leaves a large portion of respondents who are not aware. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they are looking forward to trying new energy-efficient bulbs, but 34 percent are worried about the phase-out because they prefer traditional incandescent bulbs. Eighty-seven percent of people said they still use incandescent bulbs, such as 75-watt or 60-watt bulbs.

Brightness, longevity, and price were people's top concerns. The survey, which queried 303 people, also found 73 percent of Americans believe it's important that bulbs are made in the U.S.

For people looking to replace 100-watt incandescent bulbs, there are a growing set of options. The most obvious is compact florescent lights, which give out as much light as 100-watt incandescents and are nearly as energy efficient as LEDs yet cost substantially less.

Incandescent technology itself is not going away. Some traditional incandescent bulbs, such as three-way bulbs, are exempt from the efficiency mandate. Also, lighting manufacturers are releasing halogen bulbs, which is incandescent technology but uses about 25 percent to 30 percent less power. One company called Vu1 is making bulbs that use incandescent technology but use about 70 percent less power.

Long-lasting LEDs, meanwhile, have become more viable although they now cost significantly more than CFLs. Right now, the brightest LEDs give off the equivalent of a 75 watt incandescent bulb with brighter ones expected next year. Prices have fallen steadily over the past year, with manufacturers shooting to bring 60-watt equivalent LEDs bulbs down to $15.

Awareness of alternatives to the traditional incandescent appears to be high. More than 90 percent of people had heard of halogens, 80 percent had heard of LEDs, and 68 percent had heard of CFLs.