If you read one of numerous reports from various media outlets last month, it’s possible you may have rushed to your nearest hardware store and stocked a grocery cart full of incandescent light bulbs before the Jan. 1 ban kicked in. Perhaps you were haunted by the specter of $13 LED bulbs, which are plenty efficient and more equitable in the long run, but more than double cost of the trusty old incandescent bulb.
Here’s the thing: incandescent light bulbs haven’t gone extinct. Many outlets plain got the story wrong. But you needn’t be embarrassed about a cellar stocked with these popular bulbs.
According to The Verge, the manufacturing and import of 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs did come to an end on Jan. 1. However, 43-watt, 72-watt and even 150-watt incandescent bulbs are still available. (Legally!)
How did we arrive at this supposed incandescent apocalypse? Sean Hollister at The Verge explains:
“So what is actually happening on January 1st? The cost of an ordinary light bulb will drastically rise — and hopefully your electricity bill will fall. The so-called bulb ban is simply a government-mandated energy efficiency standard at work. Seven years ago, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (PDF) into law, and its final light bulb provisions take effect today. They simply require that the most popular light bulbs are roughly 25 percent more efficient — that you only need 43 watts to generate the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent.”
Hollister goes on to explain that market forces, not legislation, could eventually spell lights out for incandescent bulbs. Once consumers get used to the sticker shock when purchasing LED, they will enjoy a bulb that lasts 15-20 years before it even starts to dim, according to manufacturer estimates. And that means less time up on the ladder or dealing with a burnt-out bulb at an inopportune time.