Time To Change The Light Bulb?

Thomas Edison invented them more than 125 years ago, but some are saying it's about time to change the light bulb, CBS News correspondent Daniel Sieberg reports.

"A compact fluorescent light bulb uses only one-quarter of the electricity and lasts 10 times as long as one of these," says Brian Castelli of the Alliance To Save Energy, holding a standard incandescent bulb.

Castelli is part of a growing coalition that wants to ban the standard bulb and replace it with compact fluorescents, which come in various shapes and wattages. Advocates say the switch would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save electricity — and money.

"Not using this light bulb is like taking a dollar bill and throwing it out the window," Castelli says of compact fluorescents.

For example, one compact fluorescent costs about $3, while an incandescent costs less than a quarter. But over a year, if you bought a compact fluorescent, you'd save $39 on your electricity bill, for a bulb that lasts about five years. Even so, it's not an easy sell.

"I didn't want to buy a spiral because they look funny," one consumer says.

Some people might also be turned off by the glow from compact fluorescents. But retail giant Wal-Mart thinks the new bulbs are a bright idea.

"We have an effort right now to sell 100 million bulbs this year," says Wal-Mart store manager Tracy Ferschweiler.

The switch is cool in Hollywood: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio showed off compact fluorescents on "Oprah." And they're already catching on in Cuba, Venezuela and Australia.

As for the United States ...

"If everybody traded one light bulb, the impact would be like taking 1 million cars off the road for one year or the ability to light 7 million additional homes in the United States," Castelli says.

And that's how many people it takes to change a light bulb.
  • Melissa McNamara

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