Incandescent Light Bulbs Being Phased Out Beginning Today
Lighting homes since the 1800s, the incandescent light bulb can no longer legally be made in the United States starting today. In 2007 President George W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress banning the iconic light source. The law was drafted on the grounds that it is not energy efficient enough. Last year, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs were phased out, and 2014 will see the elimination of the remaining bulbs.
The conventional bulb’s replacements, light-emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, are expected to lower the environmental impact of artificial lighting and save money.
“The reason why the federal government legislated the change is because these incandescent bulbs use four times or more energy than other technologies,’’ Kevin Hallinan, a University of Dayton engineering professor and a clean energy expert told The Boston Globe.
The ban does not affect the sale or use of the bulbs, so those wanting to keep lighting their space the old fashioned way can continue to do so until the inventory of traditional bulbs runs out.
Like all things government-related these days, the ban on incandescent bulbs has sparked a debate between those trying to conserve the traditional way of life and those wanting to progress toward something new. For example, the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation has described the law as another example of government intrusion into the private lives of US citizens.
“(T)he federal government is taking decisions out of the hands of families and businesses, destroying jobs, and restricting consumer choice in the market,” Nicolas Loris wrote on the foundation’s official blog. “We all have a wide variety of preferences regarding light bulbs. It is not the role of the federal government to override those preferences with what it believes is in our best interest.”
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a Virginia-based industry group, counters claims of a federal intrusion by claiming that consumers are already embracing the new lighting options. NEMA spokesman Paul Molitor pointed to lowering costs of compact fluorescent lights as evidence that consumers can have lower energy bills while spending the same amount on bulbs.
“Truthfully, most people aren’t really going to notice,” he told National Geographic.
The more modern bulbs emit light by sending electricity between two different semiconducting materials, resulting in increases in both energy efficiency and durability. While LEDs are still much more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they too are falling in price.
“In 2012, they were about $40 apiece, but now you can get ones that cost $10,” said Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council.
In addition to the phasing out of incandescent bulbs, Oregon and Illinois are banning the use of tanning beds by teens starting in 2014. Teens would be allowed to use the bed only with a doctor’s note, as the beds have been shown to effectively treat some skin conditions. The states join Nevada, New Jersey, Texas and West Virginia, which already have similar laws.