Lights out: Bulb ban begins Wednesday

By JONATHAN STREETMAN
Herald Staff Writer

Love them or hate them, they’ve been the main source of light in our homes for decades. But as of Jan. 1, the traditional 40- and 60-watt light bulbs will become harder to find when new government regulations take effect.

The ban, which comes from the Energy Independence and Security Act, or “Energy Bill,” signed into law in 2007 by then-President George Bush, restricts the manufacturing and import of traditional incandescent light bulbs. Restrictions on 75- and 100-watt bulbs already have been in place for one and two years, respectively.

Consumers still will be able to buy the bulbs as long as they remain in stock in stores and can continue their use at home.

“We’ll continue to keep them on the shelves as long as they’re around,” Meny’s True Value owner Gary Meny said, motioning to several shelves full of the traditional bulbs.

Larger chain stores, such as The Home Depot in Jasper, also still have plenty in stock.

“We expect to have the incandescent bulbs well into 2014,” Home Depot store manager Lorel Carroll said, adding that winter is the busiest time for light bulb sales, boosting the store’s inventory and selection.

However, consumers now have plenty of options to light their homes as more efficient bulbs are continually hitting the market.

Traditional bulbs, using a heated tungsten filament to produce light, waste up to 90 percent of their energy putting off heat instead of light.

The new wave of light bulbs, begun by compact fluorescent light bulbs and soon joined by a variety of light-emitting diode lights, halogen bulbs and others, offer consumers a variety of bulbs that last up to five to 10 years as advertised and run on minimal wattage while emitting the same amount of light. Those looking to replace 60-watt bulbs should look for a bulb that emits 800 lumens; 40-watt bulbs can be replaced at 450 lumens.

CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and should be handled with care. They should be sent to a proper recycling center after they’ve burnt out.

Meny said many of his customers already are gravitating toward the energy-saving options, even though they can be double or even triple the price.

“I’ve had people looking to replace their 75- and 100-watt bulbs, and these halogen lights do just that,” Meny said, expecting customers will do the same for the lower wattages.

Although many of the new energy-efficient bulbs come with a steeper price tag, the extended use and energy saved help the bulbs eventually pay for themselves.

“People are seeing these bulbs last for 10 years while saving energy,” Meny said, justifying the extra cost. Although some his customers may want to stick with the light bulbs of their youth, Meny expects most will switch over to energy-efficient bulbs soon.

“I might order a couple extra cases when the regulations come down, but I’m not going to fill my back room with them or anything,” he said.

Online: www.energystar.gov; epa.gov/cfl

Contact Jonathan Streetman.




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