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New Law Turns Out Lights On Traditional Bulbs

You have to say it was a pretty good run.

The traditional electric incandescent light bulb, essentially unchanged for 125 years, is now officially a thing of the past. At the start of the New Year, 40 and 60-watt light bulbs were banned in the U.S., bringing an end to Thomas Edison’s brainchild. He done good.

bulbThe ban fulfills the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The law was designed to conserve resources through the elimination of inefficient products, and the old light bulb was directly in its sights. The 100-watt bulb was phased out in 2012, and the 75-watt bulb left us last year.

The numbers are hard to argue. There are four billion screw-in light sockets in the U.S., and three billion of them still use the old incandescent bulbs. Those bulbs are only 10% efficient, which means 90% of its energy is lost as heat.

Under the new law, screw-based bulbs will use fewer watts to deliver a similar lumen output. The standards are technology-neutral, which means any kind of bulb can be sold as long as it meets the new requirements.

New bulb alternatives, including compact fluorescents (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) cost a little more, but pay back exponentially over the life of the bulb.

For example, a 40-watt LED currently costs around $7.50, but it uses 85% less energy than a standard bulb. Over the course of a year, that traditional incandescent bulb would use $7 in energy under normal operation. The LED bulb would use about $2.

And LED bulbs are supposed to last 20 years. Think how many trips up the ladder in the hallway that saves.

The old light bulb did not go quietly, as some lawmakers see the law as an example of overreaching government. House Republican Jeff Duncan of South Carolina introduced a bill in early January that would have overturned the light bulb provisions of the 2007 Energy Bill, but leadership was unlikely to take up the measure.

Stores are allowed to sell off their stock, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.

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