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Ask Mr. Tight-Watt: Phasing Out Incandescent Bulbs  Smart Choices Archive

Ask Mr. Tight-Watt: Phasing Out Incandescent Bulbs

Ask Mr. Tight-Watt

Q: Why are incandescent light bulbs being phased out? I hear CFLs will be required in the future.
A: Mr. Tight-Watt found the answer to this from ENERGY STAR:
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (the “Energy Bill”), signed by President Bush on December 18, 2007, requires all light bulbs use 30 percent less energy than today’s incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The phase-out will start with 100-watt bulbs sold starting in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs sold starting in January 2014. By 2020, a Tier 2 would become effective, which requires all bulbs to be at least 70 percent more efficient (effectively equal to today’s CFLs).

It’s not entirely correct to say “CFLs will be required” or “incandescents will be phased out” because the standards set by the bill are technology neutral, and by 2012, a next generation of incandescent bulbs could satisfy the 30 percent increased efficiency.
There are also other lighting technologies, such as halogen and LEDs, that will be able to meet the new requirements and are expected to both increase in performance and drop in cost over the next few years.

Lighting is approximately 20 percent of the average household’s energy bill. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates this law could cut our nation’s electric bill by more than $10 billion a year.

There are many types of incandescent bulbs exempt from this law:
  • Any kind of specialty light (i.e., bulb in refrigerator)
  • Reflector bulbs
  • 3-way bulbs
  • Candelabras
  • Globes
  • Shatter resistant
  • Vibration service
  • Rough service
  • Colored bulbs (i.e., “party bulbs”)
  • Bug lights
  • Plant lights
This law applies to the sale of bulbs, not the use of existing stock of bulbs.

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