Truth & Lies: The Incandescent Phase Out, Part 1

There have been a good deal of inaccurate and misleading reports in the news lately about the upcoming incandescent phase out.  In fact, even NBC Nightly News got it wrong when they recently said that the government is requiring people to switch to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).

The buzz is all about the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007), signed by George W. Bush.  The law was designed to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.  Part of that law involves new standards for light bulbs (called “lamps” in the lighting industry).  The first step toward implementing those standards is set to go into effect in just a little over 9 months (January 1, 2012), hence the recent news reports.

This week, we are going to publish a series of blog posts to educate you all about the upcoming phase out.  We’ll write a post a day (details about new legislation do not exactly make for light reading).

By the end of the week, you will be an expert.  At the very least, you’ll be better informed than NBC’s Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent!

We’ll start off with three basic facts about the EISA 2007 that will eliminate a number of misconceptions right off the bat:

  • First of all, the law does not ban incandescent A-line light bulbs, nor does it mandate the use of CFLs.  It simply sets new standards in efficiency for light bulbs.
  • Today’s standard A-line incandescent light bulbs (the ones that most of us use around our homes or apartments), including the 100W, 75W, 60W, and 40W will eventually no longer be available for sale because they currently do not meet the new efficiency standards.
  • The phase out is rolling; therefore the 100W light bulb will be the first eliminated.  On January 1, 2012, today’s 100W incandescent light bulbs may no longer be manufactured or imported. However, stores will be able to sell any remaining inventory.  The 75W light bulbs will be affected on January 1, 2013 and the 60W and 40W light bulbs will be affected on January 1, 2014.

Stay tuned this week for more information!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

5 thoughts to “Truth & Lies: The Incandescent Phase Out, Part 1”

  1. I think all lighting should be allowed, for their advantages…

    Re “Not banned”…

    Setting allowable standards on products is the same as banning any product that does not meet those standards… I agree
    that it depends how you look on it.

    However, there is No Free Lunch:
    Replacement (mains voltage) type Halogens are indeed a more energy efficient type of incandescent light, but they are nothing new: They have been available for some time, and consumers hardly buy them.

    Because, not only do they still have some differences with ordinary simple incandescents, in construction, appearance and in the whiter light given out, but they also cost much more – the small energy/lifespan savings don’t justify the much higher price, typically 5-8 times the price of a regular bulb.

    But governments don’t actually like Halogens either – any purchase increases makes a ban (even) more irrelevant in the stated aim to save energy
    March 23 2011 announcement from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
    “As the standards start to take effect in 2012, the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 projects that CFLs and LEDs gain significant market share”
    = No great Halogen uptake envisaged, then…

    “The second tier of efficiency improvements becomes effective in 2020, essentially requiring general service bulbs to be as efficient as today’s CFLs”
    As in the EU, no future in America for current incandescents then, Halogen or not.

    LEDs are not yet ready as general replacement bright omnidirectional lighting at a good price – which leaves CFLs.

    For manufacturers,
    it’s all about making what is most profitable arising from the regulations – not what a government hopes they will consider making:
    and since the cheap (and unprofitable) competition from regular bulbs has been wiped out, the door is opened for the “significant market share” of profitable CFLs – and indeed expensive replacement Halogens, while they are allowed – that people would not otherwise buy.

    How manufacturers and vested interests have pushed for the ban on regular light bulbs,
    and lobbied for CFL favors:
    with documentation and copies of official communications

  2. The purpose of changing lighting is energy savings. If every home in the US used one CFL, the energy savings would equal the total output of one nuclear plant. Hopefully demand and competition will bring the prices down. I really enjoy not needing to replace blown out bulbs. I use 100 watt bulbs for reading, and I like the light without the glare. The CFL’s are very resistant to heat, so make perfect in ceiling lamps. Step up to the plate, use CPL’s where ever you can. Great outside lights.

  3. Thanks so much for your comment, Bill! It’s true that there is potential for massive energy savings by switching to more efficient light sources.

    Unfortunately, there are some export curbs on rare earth minerals in China right now causing a concerning spike in the price of fluorescent lighting. I just published a blog post Monday on why CFLs are becoming more expensive.

    Hopefully, this trend won’t continue. LED lighting is another very efficient option that has been dropping in price.

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