Light Bulb Ban around the World?

Photo: Christine Balderas / Istock

Do you know nations around the world have enacted lighting efficiency standards, including the US in 2007? From Wikipedia: Brazil and Venezuela started to phase them (incandescent bulbs) out in 2005, and the European Union, Switzerland and Australia started to phase them out in 2009. Likewise, other nations are planning scheduled phase-outs:  Argentina, Russia, and Canada in 2012, and Malaysia in 2014.

Talk Radio hosts and congressional constituents nicknamed the legislation a “bulb ban”, forcing consumers to buy CFL bulbs and restricting freedom of choice, when in reality the legislation was written to conserve energy through updated lighting standards…not too different from legislation for auto makers to reduce carbon, increase gas mileage, etc.

The House is voting this week to repeal the 2007 legislation on lighting efficiency standards probably because the mistaken belief is we will all be forced to buy the twisty, hard to dim CFL bulbs or the very expensive LED bulbs.  Not so, there are incandescent light bulbs available at very reasonable prices that do meet the 2007 lighting standards.  Consider the legislation an upgrade to manufacturing standards that conserve energy.  Continue reading which incandescent light bulbs meet the efficiency standards and are extremely affordable.

Great article by Jim DiPeso at The DailyGreen:

Take a trip to Home Depot, or browse Amazon.com. There are affordable incandescent light bulbs that meet the energy standards set by the so-called “light bulb ban.”

Today, the House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would repeal lighting efficiency standards enacted in 2007. Sponsors of the bill say they’re repealing the so-called “bulb ban,” an artfully false way to refer to what the 2007 law actually does.

The repeal proposal has been a joy ride for talk radio agitators and demagoguing politicians that, if enacted, would increase energy waste and strand investments by lighting manufacturers who could do without the interference.

My post last week about the light bulb bill drew comments from critics who said:

  • Bulbs that meet the 2007 standards will cost between $10 and $50 each;
  • Consumers will be forced to buy CFLs that are difficult to dim;
  • The efficiency standards are arbitrary;
  • Halogen incandescent alternatives that meet the standards will increase the risk of fires.

So, at the risk of burning down my house and/or burning up all of this week’s grocery money, I went searching for an incandescent light bulb that complies with those 2007 standards, which were included in an energy bill that passed by wide bipartisan majorities and was quickly signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

I didn’t have to go far. At a Home Depot a few miles from home, on shelves filled with incandescents, compact fluorescents, and LEDs, I picked out a box of two Philips “EcoVantage” soft white, halogen incandescent light bulbs – rated at 43 watts per bulb, sporting that familiar screw-in light bulb “A” shape, and fully compliant with the 2007 standards. (See photo at right.)

Cost – $2.99 plus tax, or about a buck fifty per bulb, plus Governor Gregoire’s take. ($7.27 for two bulbs on amazon.com.) Took the box home and screwed one of the bulbs into a lamp fixture. Flipped the switch. Flash! The bulb sprang to life instantly, sending bright light throughout my office.

I kept the lit bulb in the fixture for half an hour and then put my hand on it. Yeah, it was warm, but no warmer than a conventional incandescent bulb. In fact, it was cooler to the touch than a 23-watt compact fluorescent bulb shining a few feet away. My hand did not hurt from touching the incandescent. My home did not catch fire.

Next, I took the other bulb out of the box and screwed it into a recessed fixture on a dimming circuit. Flipped the switch and on it came, lickety split. Then I played with the dimmer dial. Up. Down. Up. Down. The bulb dimmed perfectly, and with greater variation in light output than LEDs on the same circuit.

While the Philips bulbs draw 43 watts, they put out as much light as 60-watt conventional incandescent bulbs, yielding a 28 percent saving on energy costs.

Why 28 percent? That is the efficiency improvement required by the 2007 law. Far from being “arbitrary,” the legislation’s language was worked out in close consultation with lighting manufacturers, who wanted technology-neutral standards their engineers could work with in designing new bulbs that would have the same look and feel of conventional incandescents, but use less energy.

They pulled it off, well ahead of the 2012 deadline for compliance. If you don’t like Philips’ new incandescent bulbs, there are competing products on offer from Sylvania ($5.55 for two bulbs) and GE ($7 for two bulbs). Or you can go with any of the compact fluorescents ($7 for eight GE bulbs) that they and other manufacturers sell. Or LEDs ($14 and up per bulb). Whatever suits you.

Someday, our kids will wonder what all the fuss was about.

2 thoughts on “Light Bulb Ban around the World?

  1. I heard about the vote to possibly repeal the bill yesterday. What a bunch of hogwash. Rush Limbaugh says it is another example of how our freedoms are bing taken away. What jibberish! I want a country free from polluted water, fouled air and one free from foreign oil (the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world!). Telling me I have to buy a certain type of buld has nothing to do with my personal freedom Rush! You’re going too far, as usual!!!

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