PARKERSBURG - With the creation and importation of most common types of incandescent light bulbs banned as of Jan. 1, people nationwide have been facing life without the incandescent bulb, officials say.
The banning of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulb manufacturing and importation is the final step in America's participation in a worldwide effort to ban these energy-inefficient light bulbs, said Jeff Herholdt, director of the West Virginia Division of Energy.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 began preparing America for the phasing-out of incandescent light bulbs over the following seven years, according to information provided on the United States government's website: www.energy.gov.
Photo by Gretchen Richards.
Displays at Lowe’s in Vienna offer residents many types of light bulbs, but future manufacturing and importing of 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs has been banned by the federal government.
On Jan. 1, 2012, incandescent bulbs with wattages of 100 or above were no longer allowed to be imported or manufactured in the United States, said Energy.gov. On Jan. 1, 2013, incandescent bulbs of 75-watts joined their 100-watt brethren. As of Jan. 1, the standard 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs are no longer allowed to be manufactured or imported into America, Energy.gov said.
Those who stocked up on incandescent bulbs while they were still on store shelves will be happy to learn that the bulbs themselves are still legal to use, Herholdt said. The ban only prevents the future manufacturing and importation of new bulbs after Jan. 1, but does not tell people what they may or may not use in their own homes, he said.
"The hoarder of incandescent bulbs is only prolonging the inevitable," Herholdt said. "Unless there are great strides in incandescent energy-efficiency in the next few years, the current supply of incandescent bulbs will eventually run out, and the hoarders will end up converting to better options when their stockpiles run dry," he said.
The compact fluorescent light bulb is the most common bulb that has filled the gap left by the ban, said Herholdt. The compact fluorescent bulb lasts up to 10 times longer than its incandescent cousin, Herholdt said.
Not all incandescent bulbs were banned under the manufacturing and importation law. According to Energy.gov, there are 22 types of specialty incandescent bulbs that are still permitted to be made and imported.
Among these specialty bulbs are appliance bulbs, black light bulbs, colored bulbs, infrared bulbs, left-handed thread bulbs, marine signal bulbs, miner's bulbs, plant light bulbs, shatter-resistant bulbs, showcase bulbs, three-way bulbs and traffic signal bulbs.
Many West Virginian citizens are opposed to switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs for various reasons, Herholdt said. But when the facts are boiled down, the compact fluorescent bulb type is a better use of energy, and a better use of your dollar, than incandescent bulbs are, he said.
The average West Virginian spends 10 percent of their monthly electricity bill on lighting, Herholdt said.
"If you were to switch a single 75-watt incandescent bulb in your home for a 75-watt compact fluorescent bulb, you would save $9.59 on your electric bill in one year," Herholdt said. "In 10 years, that same bulb will save you $102," he said.
When homeowners begin multiplying those savings by the number of light bulbs in the home, the savings add up quickly, Herholdt said.
"But more importantly, when addressed from the point of view of energy-saved per-household, then multiply that by every person who lives in your city or town, you start to realize exactly how large of an impact the light bulb ban has on the community and the nation," Herholdt said.
Citizens have expressed concerns about the amount of mercury in these compact fluorescent bulbs as well, Herholdt said.
Despite attempts to dispel the myth that a broken compact fluorescent bulb requires a HazMat team to clean-up, the legend has persisted, Herholdt said.
"The compact fluorescent bulb contains only trace amounts of mercury, which is a naturally occurring element, and is what makes the bulb light up," Herholdt said. "If you should happen to break one, just sweep it up and throw it in the garbage. There is so little mercury in them that there zero danger in modern models," he said.
A final popular complaint is that the compact fluorescent light simply does not offer the same "warmth" as incandescent lights provide, Herholdt said.
While the color of the compact fluorescent light bulb may be different than incandescent, the difference is worth dealing with for the amount of energy and money saved nation-wide, Herholdt said.
For those who shy away from the compact fluorescent light for whatever reason, there are other lighting options, Herholdt said. Those who wish to avoid compact fluorescents can choose the more expensive LED option instead, Herholdt said.
"The new LED light bulbs are to compact florescents what the compact florescents are to the incandescent bulbs," Herholdt said. Although expensive, these lights last much longer than the compact fluorescent ones do, and cost even less to operate, he said.
The choice is in the hands of the average homeowner, and how they wish to impact the environment in the future, Herholdt said.