As of January 1, 2014, light bulb manufacturers were prohibited from producing incandescent 40 watt and 60 watt bulbs according to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, as a means “…to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.”
Many other countries have already phased out incandescents. And in case you missed it, 75 watt bulbs were phased out January 1, 2013, and 100 watt bulbs met their demise in 2012. Now what are the options?
The price of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs has fallen substantially in the past year, but are still expensive. CFL (compact flourescent) have been used as the main alternative to incandescents, but most are not dimmable. And they contain a small amount of toxic mercury inside the tubes which requires recycling the bulb at most home improvement stores, some power companies, and of course, your local hazardous waste collection facility.
But many people really liked the traditional incandescent bulbs for their low cost, light quality and dimmability. And dogs and chickens like these bulbs outside as a heat source.
The most direct replacementt for the 40 watt and 60 watt incandescent bulbs are these new energy saver halogen bulbs that look just like standard bulbs. But they have a small halogen bulb inside the standard bulb. Similar to car head lamps. Halogens are a type of incandescent bulb, but give off a lot more light with the same amount of wattage used. Compared to standard incandescent bulbs, these save over 25% in energy usuage and meet the new maximum wattage allowed:
- 40 watt replacement bulb uses only 28 watts (maximum allowed is 29 watts)
- 60 watt replacement bulb uses only 43 watts
- 75 watt replacement bulb uses only 53 watts
- 100 watt replacement bulb uses only 72 watts
And like most laws, there are a few exceptions to the incandescent ban (per Public Law 110-140, Dec. 19, 2007, Title III, Section 321):
- Appliance lamps
- Black light lamps
- Bug lamps
- Colored lamps
- Infrared lamps
- Left-hand thread lamps
- Marine lamps
- Marine signal service lamps
- Mine service lamps
- Plant light lamps
- Reflector lamps
- Rough service lamps
- Shatter-resistant lamps (including shatter-proof and shatter-protected)
- Sign service lamps
- Silver bowl lamps
- Showcase lamps
- 3-way incandescent lamps
- Traffic signal lamps
- Vibration service lamps
- G-shape lamps with a diameter of 5” or more
- T-shape lamps that use not more than 40 watts or has a length of more than 10”
- A B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G-25, G-30, S, M-14, lamps of 40 watts or less
Standard incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy: only about 10% is converted to light and 90% is heat. Perhaps Thomas Edison, who created the first long-lasting (1,500 hours vs. minutes) incandscent bulb in 1879, would have been surprised that his invention would be still be in use 135 years later. Now is a good time switch to LEDs and save you lots of money in the future.
Douglas Lee works part time in electrical and lighting at a home improvement store. Years ago, he changed all his incandescent bulbs to CFL’s and is gradually replacing CFLs with LEDs.