It is official, incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. No, they aren’t illegal and no, they wont be ripped off shelves and smashed in some Orwellian fashion. Though, they will be banned from being manufactured or imported beginning Jan. 1. In fact you will probably be able to find them in stores until their supplies are depleted. When supplies of incandescent bulbs run out, you’ll find your local hardware store will have replaced them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED lights.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), signed into law in 2007, includes a rule to phase out incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are quite inefficient. As most tech fans know, heat is a form of energy, and incandescent light bulbs waste quite a bit of it, about 90 percent of its energy burns off as heat not as light. Which is why CFLs and LEDs are preferred alternatives.
As consumers you are probably aware that CFLs and LED bulbs are generally pricier than incandescent bulbs. Doing a quick search through Amazon it looks like you’ll spend a few cents more per bulb, and about eight to 10 times more for a single LED one. The question is how much money will you actually save whilst changing bulbs and how much are you willing to pay up front for these savings? According to one EPA estimate, CFLs last 10 times as long as traditional bulbs, not bad if you’re just considering the price of bulbs let alone the energy savings.
CFLs, however, have a drawback in that it uses a small amount of mercury. CFL bulbs cannot be thrown into the regular trash, instead they should be taken to local recycling centers. If you were to break a CFL, you should take extra precaution, like taking children and pets out of the room and airing it out for 10 minutes before attempting to clean it up. When you do go to clean it up you shouldn’t vacuum it either. Though the amount of mercury in each bulb is minimal you should still be aware of its affects. If you do have kids and are worried about broken bulbs or hot bulbs, LED ones may be a better option.
Much of the talk around energy efficient bulbs seem to focus around CFLs rather than LEDs mainly because of its cost benefit. But LEDs are also beneficial because of their extremely low energy consumption, low heat and long life (20 years). In fact one report states during the same period you would burn through roughly 30 incandescent bulbs and cost an additional $200 to light up those bulbs, while one LED bulb would only cost you $21 to operate over those two decades.
Don’t be alarmed next time you go to the store to buy light bulbs only to find your trusty incandescent bulb is no where to be found. There are plenty of options on the market and they may be better for you and your pocket book in the long run.