With the power surge in technology, a new day is dawning in the way we light our homes and businesses.

Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb has been the staple in our society for over a century. It has been calculated that every year more than 425 million 60-watt incandescent light bulbs are sold in this country, representing approximately 50 percent of the domestic incandescent light bulb market.

The push is for more efficient lighting. Using the LED alternative in place of the incandescent bulb will deliver up to 80 percent in energy savings and last 25 times longer than the Edison predecessor.

While the big advantage is lower energy consumption, the biggest initial drawback with LED products is the cost. The prices should slowly come down once the new lighting becomes more mainstream and competing products saturate the market.

The most innovative product just around the corner is a softer light that emanates from paper-Thin LED Light Sheets. The environmental and practical advantages of this product are endless. Light sheets placed in windows, for example, will allow natural light to enter in the daylight hours and become light sources to illuminate a room at night.

While light bulb technology is taking off and will be providing jobs for the cutting edge companies that produce it, our state is also providing incentives for adopting new energy-saving technology. Pennsylvania rewards homeowners and small businesses for successfully harnessing the sun's rays for solar power and thus, lowering energy bills.

A year ago, the state began its Sunshine Solar Rebate Program and many businesses and homeowners have benefitted. DEP secretary John Hanger recently presented the state's 1,000th rebate check of $10,800 to Sally Kauffman, a Montgomery County homeowner whose solar system is saving her nearly $800 a year in energy costs.

Since the cost of the sunshine is free and the solar equipment requires little maintenance, Sally is locking in the cost of a portion of her home energy bill for the next couple of decades. Hanger said more than 790 residential solar electric and 137 solar thermal projects have been completed with another 895 solar projects approved for construction.

Among small businesses, another 108 solar electric and 10 solar thermal projects have been completed and another 318 solar technology projects have been approved for construction. In total, the PA Sunshine Program has provided more than $72 million in rebates to fund more than 2,300 solar electric and hot water projects that are either completed or already under construction. Rebates for the remaining projects are being processed timely in the order they were received.

"Alternative energy will be a key to Pennsylvania and the nation's ability to grow its economy by harnessing the power of new technology to create jobs," said Hanger.

Growing the economy, striving for energy independence and producing jobs. Now that's a trifecta that can brighten anyone's day.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com