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Consumer Reports releases light bulb ratings

BY Brae Canlen

Consumer Reports has published its ratings on the new lighting technology facing consumers, and concluded that both CFL and LED bulbs have overcome many problems that challenged earlier versions of these energy-efficient bulbs. The full report, available for Fans on Consumer Reports’ Facebook page, focused on the 60-watt equivalent of the standard incandescent bulb, testing both CFLS and LEDs. It concluded that CFLs save money faster due to their low cost.

Consumers typically take less than a year to recoup the cost of most CFLs, according to Consumer Reports tests, while LEDs can take four to 10 years to pay for themselves due to the high cost of the bulb. Also, CFLs now have less mercury. The amount in the bulbs, Consumer Reports tested, has dropped 60% to 75%, compared with already low levels they found in 2008, without affecting performance. Nevertheless, spent CFLs should be recycled. Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe’s and some ACE Hardware stores will accept used bulbs.

LEDs, the newest choice, carry the highest price. The best LEDs were still as bright as the incandescent they replaced, yet only half were as bright as promised. Consumer Reports found that all LEDs reached full brightness instantly, even at frigid temperatures, providing warm white light that was unaffected by frequently turning them on and off. Energy use matched or exceeded claims. LEDs are supposed to last 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or about 18 to 46 years when used three hours a day. Nearly all the LEDs were still burning brightly after 3,000 hours, and only four of the 100 LEDs stopped working.

Consumer Report’s recommended picks include three that were also evaluated by 19 Consumer Reports staffers in their homes, the Philips AmbientLED 12.5W (60W) $40 for table or floor lamps, the EcoSmart LED Downlight 10.5W (65W) dimmable (sold at Home Depot), $50 for recessed or track lights, and the EcoSmart PAR38 Bright White (75W) dimmable LED (sold at Home Depot), $45 outdoor flood light.

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HIRI Summit will look into the future for trends

BY Ken Clark

The future will factor heavily in the education offered during the two-day HIRI Home Improvement Industry Summit to be held Oct. 19 to 20 in Chicago at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, including a presentation from Walker Smith, executive chairman of The Futures Co.

His presentation, “Home Improvement Future-Forward: The Latest from the HIRI Future Trends Program,” will feature the findings from its latest custom research project. Key trends to be discussed include: Consumers in Control, Genuine Article and Making a Difference. This presentation will provide new insight into how the home improvement industry can innovate against shifting consumer aspirations and marketplace expectations to create solid opportunities for future growth and success, according to HIRI. 

Trust, authenticity and transparency, energy savings and cause marketing will be among the buzzwords.

Smith’s presentation is just one of many slated for the two-day summit, described by HIRI as the "premier conference for information on the industry." Discounts for members and non-members are available for early-bird registrants before Sept. 16.

HIRI is the home improvement industry’s leading source for original research. It is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization comprised of more than 80 forward-thinking companies.

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Milwaukee Tool invests in expansion of hand tool category

BY Ken Clark

Following the launch of its Hand Tool business in 2010, Milwaukee Tool plans to launch several new products in October 2011, the company said.

The new products will fall into three new categories, which include Pliers, Snips and PEX Cutting.

“We are committed to rapidly grow our new Hand Tool business,” said Tim Albrecht, director of marketing – Hand Tools for Milwaukee Tool. “We continue to add more resources to this business unit and further invest in its development. Milwaukee Tool’s approach of understanding our core user’s needs, and then creating new-to-world designs that solve key user problems, has set us apart."

The new hand tools specifically include Quick Adjust Reaming Pliers, Tongue and Groove Pliers, Aviation Snips and a PEX/Tubing Cutter.  Additionally, Milwaukee will introduce a family of 6-in-1 tools that will reduce the number of hand tools needed to complete common applications such as reaming pipe, cutting nails, pulling wire, cutting bolts and more.  The 6-in-1 tools will be offered as Lineman’s Pliers, Diagonal Cutting Pliers, Combination Wire Pliers and Long Nose Pliers.


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