Memories of columns past came to mind as I read the Consumer Reports latest CFL-versus-LED lightbulb study, available in complete form in its October issue.
Longtime readers may recall that I asked for feedback a couple of years ago on CFLs and received more than 1,000 emails from around the country.
Consumer Reports says the biggest beef people have with CFLs and LEDs is the price, with 23 percent of those surveyed stating that they cost too much.
CFLs can take minutes to achieve full brightness compared with LEDs that brighten instantly, but in tests, one LED was dim and emitted a ghastly, bluish light color, and others couldn't cast light in all directions.
Consumer Reports has identified four lightbulb letdowns and ways to prevent them.
Dim bulbs. Opt for more lumens. Check the lighting-facts label on the packages of CFLs and LEDs for the number of lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb.
Weird light color. Choose the right Kelvin (K) number. Light color is expressed by its Kelvin temperature. The higher the Kelvin number, the cooler the light. Those wanting to trim electric bills who prefer the warm light of an incandescent should choose a CFL or LED marked 2700K or so on the lighting facts label.
Unflattering light. Choose bulbs with a higher CRI. When the colors of things look off, find out the color-rendering index of the lightbulbs. CRI indicates how accurately a lightbulb displays colors, and the higher the better. Incandescent bulbs are at or near 100; most CFLs and LEDs Consumer Reports tested are in the low-to-mid 80s.
Early burnout. Return the bulb to the retailer or contact the manufacturer. You may need the model number or UPC and a receipt.
Question: Every year wasps and hornets come into our house. We tried putting a screen on the chimney and sealing the recessed lighting, but they still come. An exterminator sprayed the perimeter of the house and bombed the attic with pesticide, but how do we find the source?
Answer: Do more of this kind of chemical warfare inside and outside of your house, and wasps and hornets will be the least of your worries, I guarantee.
A more direct approach is to locate the nests of these creatures – paperlike and made from chewed wood products mixed with wasp saliva – found under eaves and alcoves, in trees and bushes and on sides of the building.
I find one or two every year, usually underneath the eaves on the sunny side of the house. Sometimes I'll find a dead wasp in the room on the other side of the nest, and I suppose the creature got in through an opening only it could fit through.
I deal with my own, but I recommend hiring a professional who will spend some time locating the nests and taking care of them - precision rather than area bombing.
Yellow stains. I get e-mail periodically from readers who have lifted throw rugs from flooring only to find yellow stains where the carpeting has been sitting.
In some cases, there is no cure. Bernadette Chupein seems to have found a solution, though the reason behind it eludes her.
"I also had a yellow stain caused by a mat in front of a double slider door in the kitchen. I removed the mat but did not replace the flooring - which is a gray-and-white swirl design vinyl.
"Within several weeks, the stain disappeared. I can only assume it was the sun coming through the glass that caused this.
"I also had a wool rug with a cotton backing under the kitchen table. This area also had yellow discoloring – but again – after removing the rug, the stain disappeared in a few weeks' time.
"I have no other explanation, but I'm happy my floor is no longer stained. I had tried several cleaning products to remove stains to no avail."
One thing you learn in this job is sometimes there just is no answer.
Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.