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The Truth about the EISA Light Bulb Ban

The Truth about the EISA Light Bulb Ban

Lately, one of the hot topics of discussion in the news has been the last phase-out of the incandescent light bulb, set to take effect January 1, 2014. When Americans were told that the incandescent light bulbs they had become so familiar with would slowly cease production due to new government regulations, many panicked. Although the incandescent light bulb isn’t something that many Americans would typically put on the top of their list of things to worry about, the idea that something so familiar and everyday would no longer be available angered them. However, contrary to popular belief, the so-called “light bulb ban” does not mean the extinction of the incandescent light bulb. Lighting retailers like 1000Bulbs.com will continue to work with manufacturers to produce the bulbs that many people use in common residential applications such as table lamps, floor lamps, and track lighting.

The Energy and Independence Security Act

The Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was signed by President George W. Bush in an effort to curb the country’s high energy consumption and push consumers towards more energy-efficient lighting solutions. In Section 321of the EISA, it states that, after certain dates, general service incandescent lamps that do not meet the efficiency requirements set forth by the government can no longer be produced in the United States. Because almost all standard incandescent lamps did not meet EISA standards, the slow phase-out of the incandescent bulb would happen within three years, from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014.

According to the EISA, screw-based light bulbs must consume less wattage, or energy, for a similar lumen output, or brightness.  The first bulbs to be affected by the government regulations were 100-watt incandescents in January of 2012. Then, in January of 2013, 75-watt incandescent bulbs began their phase-out as well. Now, in January of 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will begin the transition. By the year 2020, most light bulbs will be required to be 60 to 70 percent more energy-efficient than the standard incandescent bulb of today.

Below is an example of how much less wattage today’s light bulbs will be required to use in compliance with EISA standards:

Present Wattage                          Wattage Use after EISA                                      Effective Date

100-watt                                               ≤ 72 watts                                                     January 1, 2012

75-watt                                                 ≤ 53 watts                                                      January 1, 2013

60-watt                                                 ≤ 43 watts                                                      January 1, 2014

40-watt                                                 ≤ 29 watts                                                      January 1, 2014

Light Bulb Ban Myths

Since the signing of the EISA, many myths about the light bulb ban have circulated, resulting in some angry reactions from those who think incandescent light bulbs are being made illegal or completely disappearing from the face of the earth. Below are some explanations of these myths that will, hopefully, clear a few things up.

Myth #1: All incandescent light bulbs will completely disappear after the New Year

Simply put: This is 100 percent false. Although the EISA is preventing manufacturers from continuing to produce general service incandescent light bulbs as inefficiently as they had been, it does not forbid retailers, including 1000Bulbs.com, from selling their existing inventory. It also does not forbid the use of the remaining incandescent bulbs in any way. 1000Bulbs.com will still continue to sell traditional incandescent light bulbs for six months to a year, or until all stock runs out. This gives customers plenty of time to stock up on their favorite bulbs.

Myth #2: The bulb ban will increase the amount of money people have to spend on lighting their homes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s no secret that energy-efficient lighting has made major strides in popularity over the past couple of years. LED lighting has become one of the go-to lighting sources for everything from office buildings to art installations because of how little energy they use. While it’s true that the initial cost of energy-efficient lighting like LED and compact fluorescent bulbs is notably higher than the traditional incandescent bulb, the amount of money saved over time will make up the difference. For example, a 23-watt CFL can produce the same amount of brightness as a 100-watt incandescent, using a fraction of the energy. Check out our blog post on how energy-efficient lighting can save you money for more detailed information.

Myth #3: The Mercury in CFL bulbs will be harmful to you and your home

As we have mentioned in a previous post, the mercury levels in a CFL are nothing to be overly concerned about. While the amount of mercury in a CFL can vary, the US EPA’s Energy Star program determined that there is about 4 milligrams in an average screw-based CFL with an Energy Star rating. To put it in perspective, that is about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. Even though the mercury levels in a CFL are relatively small, you should always exercise caution if one breaks and dispose of the bulb properly.

The Exception to the Rule

Although general service incandescent bulbs are being phased out, the new laws do not apply to many specialty application lamps, including those that fall under the category of "rough service." Besides being sturdier for their use in heavy-duty applications, rough-service bulbs work in the same way as traditional incandescents and come with a similarly inexpensive price tag. Manufacturers only have to add extra supports around the filament of an incandescent light bulb in order for an incandescent to be considered rough-service. This is why the incandescent light bulb will continue to be produced and sold through lighting retailers like 1000Bulbs.com. Whereas many big-box stores will stop re-ordering incandescent lighting after the New Year, 1000Bulbs.com will continue to provide the incandescent bulbs that many have gotten so used to using in their household fixtures.

For a comprehensive list of incandescent bulbs exempt from the light bulb ban, click here.


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