Photo: Anton Fomkin (Flickr)
The familiar incandescent light bulbs will start to disappear from stores as the government phases them out over the next several years. New lighting standards take effect beginning in January and the government is increasing efforts to get the word out to consumers now.
One 100-watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be sold in stores next year. By 2014, the other wattage levels will also be phased out as a part of a 2007 federal law aimed at improving energy efficiency. There are three varieties of new bulbs to choose from: halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED’s.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Energy Secretary Kathleen Hogan says while the new bulbs may cost a little more to buy, they will save money through lower energy costs.
“Most consumers will get paid back in less than a year and then nationally, it’s on the order of billions of dollars in energy-bill savings across the country by 2015,” she says.
But opponents of the changes say the government action is over-reaching and raise some safety concerns as well. Amy Ridenour chairs the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank.
She has an autistic son who is prone to accidently breaking light bulbs because he has cognitive trouble seeing lamps as something to be careful around. The compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, necessitating a multi-step cleanup and disposal process. And she says that’s not the only problem with the CFLs.
“The CFLs also can cause seizures in people who are prone to them, which autistic people, including my son, are,” Ridenour says.
Hogan says she understands those safety concerns but points out people can buy the other types of bulbs instead. But Ridenour says the LEDs are much more expensive and the halogen incandescents will be phased out by government regulation in 2020.