LIGHTS OUT: 40 And 60-Watt Light Bulb Ban

Posted on: 10:40 am, December 13, 2013, by , updated on: 10:42am, December 13, 2013

By KMJ [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By KMJ [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Light bulb manufacturers will cease making traditional 40 and 60-watt light bulbs — the most popular in the country — at the start of 2014.

This comes after the controversial phasing out of incandescent 75 and 100-watt light bulbs at the beginning of 2013.

In their place will be halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs and high efficiency incandescents — which are just regular incandescents that have the filament wrapped in gas. All are significantly more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but offer significant energy and costs savings over the long run. (Some specialty incandescents — such as three-way bulbs — will still be available.)

The end of old light bulbs will likely anger some consumers that are already faced with higher prices for a variety of goods. But it will also tick off tea party activists since the ban is the result of the final phase of government-mandated efficiency standards.

The rules were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. They are designed to address gross inefficiencies with old light bulbs — only 10% of the energy they use is converted into light, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a handy fact sheet about the changes. The rest is wasted as heat.

But the rules have drawn fire from a number of circles — mainly conservatives and libertarians who are unhappy about the government telling people what light bulbs they can use. They argue that if the new ones really are so good, people will buy them on their own without being forced to do so.

The Republican-controlled House first tried to overturn the law. When that failed, Congress prevented the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce the new rules.

But light bulb makers still have no plans to make the old bulbs after the first of the year, noting the law is still the law and that state attorneys general have the power to enforce it.

“We haven’t seen any problems with respect to compliance,” said Kyle Pitsor, vice president for government relations at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents 95% of all light bulb makers in the United States.

The manufacturers association was a big supporter of the new rules, arguing they headed off a patchwork of pending state laws that would have made the business highly complicated.

While there were initial grumblings from consumers when the ban was first announced, Pitsor said most of the concerns faded away as people become more familiar with the new light bulbs and realize they can still buy high efficiency incandescents.

Experts point out how much consumers can save with more efficient bulbs.

The high efficiency incandescents cost about $1.50 each, compared to 50 cents or so for the old bulbs. But they last twice as long, and use 28% less power.

With LEDs, the saving are even greater. While a 40-watt LED goes for about $7.50 — a big drop from the $50 or so it cost just a few years back — it uses 85% less energy than a traditional bulb.

Over the course of the year, a LED will consume about $2 in power under normal circumstances, said Mark Voykovik, national light bulb merchant for Home Depot. That compares to over $7 for an incandescent.

“In two years, you pay off that bulb,” said Voykovik. And because LED bulbs are expected to last at least 20 years — it’s all savings for the next 18 years.

Moreover, LEDs are free from many of the issues that plagued compact fluorescent bulbs. They turn on instantly, do not contain mercury and give off a warm light similar to an incandescent.

People with big electricity bills seem to be taking notice. Home Depot recently released a map showing who is buying more efficient bulbs. While typically “green” places such as San Francisco, Seattle and Boston made the top 10, so did Atlanta, Orlando and Miami.

Fayetteville, Ark. and Waco, Texas were also hot markets, a fact Home Depot attributed to local rebate programs and the warm climate, where air conditioning drives up power bills.

Nationwide, about 12% of a home’s power bill goes towards lighting, according to the EPA.

While LED sales are growing rapidly — Voykovik said they doubled in each of the last two years at Home Depot — most consumers still opt for incandescent bulbs. The percent of sales that are LEDs are in the single digits, he said.

The same was true at Lowe’s, where a spokeswoman said over 50% of sales were incandescent bulbs.

5 comments

  • ervserver says:

    replacing my cfls with leds

  • Jean Miller says:

    I had one of the new spiral light bulbs catch on fire in my home. I smelled smoke and looked in the other room. I came back and saw smoke rolling out of my light fixture. I turn it off and removed the bulb and It had already started to melt the bottom of the bulb in that short of time. What if I was not home? I called the Sylvania company and told them my story and they said, “It would have gone out eventually.” I said, “You mean when my house burnt down?” They then offered me coupons for more of their products! I asked them if they were stupid, as this one about burnt my house down, and I don’t want any more of their products. I have since put the old regular bulbs in it and it was fine. One day I notice that same fixture started to flicker so I asked my husband if he had changed a bulb in that and he said yes. I looked at it and it was another Sylvania bulb. I removed it and took everyone of those bulbs and put the bulbs in the trash. I have not had any problems since I started using the old regular bulbs and this has been a year or more ago. Just google, Sylvania light bulbs fire and find out that I am not the only one with this problem. How dare the government make us use these new bulbs!

  • Mario Lanza says:

    Oh lady, it is clear that you must be a conservative and so just making it all up, according to CNN, who you can always trust (being the radical left media, but then enough of that). The commissars at the CNN Kremlin have told you, so be quiet and know your place.

    • DeeCaring says:

      Apparently YOU are the idot Mario. If Jean had a problem she can share it! Some of us actually appreciate real feedback. Don’t you know a lot of things that are manufactured approx 20% are defective? From our own experience with these bulbs they never last as long as they say, approx. 6 months in our house, and they are highly dangerous if broken. Do some research. By the way, why don’t you install some of those Sylvania bulbs in YOUR house. Have a pleasant day.

      • Mario Lanza says:

        Actually I was using sarcasm, intending to message exactly what you were saying, dear. And I do not resort to calling people idiots; name calling is for low-lifes, and you have shown your true colors; as well as not being able to spell. Be careful whom you call “idiot;” when you point your finger at someone, three more fingers are pointing back at you. And “have a pleasant day” as you say it in hostility is just more of your black and hostile heart that likes to attack PEOPLE. What a sad thing you must be to need to say such things. Sucks being you I suppose. Have exactly the day you deserve.

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