Is there really going to be a ban on incandescent light bulbs?
MYTH: The government is trying to prevent me from buying incandescent light bulbs!
FACT: We will always be able to buy incandescents in one form or another. The law going into effect January 1, 2012 is not a ban – it is instituting a new standard for the efficiency of light bulbs. Some incandescent light bulbs will fade away into memory, but not all of them.
These new lighting efficiency standards were signed into law by President Bush as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. The law is using a new measurement for light bulbs: lumens per watt. Like miles per gallon ratings for cars, the lumens per watt measurements measures the efficiency of a bulb producing light per watt of electric power required to operate the bulb. The higher the lumens per watt, the less you pay day-t0-day to light your home.
A 100 watt incandescent produces about 17 lumens per watt. It’s like the traditional first car – something old, cheap and typically dies after a few years. Compact fluorescents produce over 60 lumens per watt and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents, making them more like the Hondas of lighting: more expensive up front, but with higher mileage and meant to last with the proper use. LEDs (light emitting diodes) produce a whopping 75 lumens per watt and can last up to 70 times longer than an incandescent, but they’re more like a concept car right now: pretty on paper, but with some significant real world issues and ridiculously expensive to boot.
So, because of the Energy Independence and Security Act, starting January 1, 2012 American companies will stop making and importing 100 watt light bulbs. You will be able to buy incandescent light bulbs after January 1, 2012. 75, 60 and 40 watt incandescents will remain on the shelves until January 1, 2014, as well as a variety of specialty bulbs including three-ways, colored lamps, plant lights and appliances lights. Manufacturers are also working on making incandescents that have higher luments per watt capacity. So no worries – there will always be a large variety of light bulbs for American consumers! As far as purchasing compact fluorescents, remember: always purchase EnergyStar-rated bulbs and install them in compliance with the packaging to get the best performance.