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Incandescent Bulbs Are History

Feb 03, 2014 10:58PM

It’s time to add old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs to such obsolete inventions as rotary telephones and record players as a multiyear phase out is wrapping up. As of January 1, no more traditional 60- or 40-watt incandescent bulbs have been allowed to be manufactured in or shipped to the United States.

The change was part of a landmark legislation called the Energy Independence  and Security Act passed by congress in 2007 that touched on a variety of conservation issues, including lighting efficiency in bulbs that don’t meet federal energy-efficiency standards. It’s the last part of a gradual phase-out that began in 2012 with 100-watt bulbs, and progressed last year with discontinuation of the 75-watt variety.

But this final stage is the most significant, according to  Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization. “The 40s and 60s represent more than 50 percent of the consumer lighting market,” he says.

The 2007 law doesn’t actually  mandate that manufacturers discontinue their bulbs, just that they improve them: 40W bulbs must draw just 10.5W, and 60W bulbs 11W. The result is the same: Incandescents simply can’t keep up with those twisty compact fluorescent (CFL) and newer LED bulbs, and even retailers were buying in bulk as the deadline approached.

While consumers might not appreciate the drop in choices, they should like their plunging energy bills, says the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the main trade association for bulb builders.

The Act is eliminating unnecessarily wasteful products from the market. There are 4 billion light bulb sockets in the U.S. and more than 3 billion of them still use standard incandescent technology that hasn’t changed much in 125 years. The old bulbs are only 10 percent efficient, and the other 90 percent of the electricity it uses is lost as heat.

Another benefit of using more efficient light bulbs is the reduction of harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants, such as mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, acid gases and greenhouse gases. This helps to protect the health of our citizens, wildlife and environment, and it’s an easy, achievable step toward reducing our carbon footprint.

Additionally, efficient products mean cost savings. The new standards mean U.S. households collectively could save nearly $6 billion in 2015 alone, as estimated by U.S. Department of Energy.

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