In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act passed. One intent was to phase out the incandescent light bulb from 2012 to 2014.
If House bill H.R. 91 and Senate bill S. 395 (The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act) get passed before January 2012, we may still be able to chose the light bulbs we use in our private homes. These bills would reinstate the incandescent bulb as a consumer choice instead of a government mandate. They were voted down in July, but there’s a renewed effort to get them passed before January 2012.
The main debate for getting rid of the incandescent bulb centers around energy efficiency. The light bulb has been held up against compact fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs.
CFLs are supposed to have a longer life span and use 50-70% less energy. They are also more expensive to manufacture (which may offset the energy savings) and mostly manufactured outside the United States. Adding on to those negatives, they emit UV rays, take minutes to warm up, and contain mercury, a danger to people that creates disposal problems and environmental concerns. The mercury in one CFL bulb (5 milligrams) can contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water. Even one low mercury bulbs can contaminate 1,000 gallons (Stanford University Study).
Incandescents have a softer light that more resembles the spectrum of the sun, and are instant on and off, not blinking like some CFLS. Incandescents can be snapped on and off frequently, which creates a higher burn out rate in CFLs. CFLs may be better off used in business environments, where lights are left on for longer periods. However, it’s not up to the government to dictate our business or personal purchasing habits.
When the original 2007 act was signed by President George Bush, it did nothing to change the defective product of CFLs, dangerous emissions or disposal problems. All it did was impose energy consumption levels on individuals. Americans pay for their own electricity, and should be allowed to determine how to save money and how to use a product they pay for. Consumption of products should be left up to costumer demand, not government command. Especially when most incandescent light bulbs are made in the USA, and the use of CFLs costs American jobs.
Congratulations to Joe Barton (R-TX) for pushing the legislation and defending personal freedom.
For information on light bulbs from the LED perspective, LEDs Magazine has updated information.
These bills are stuck in committees in both the House and Senate, but there is a renewed effort to pressure congress to pass these bills before January 2012.
Contact your local representative (Jared Polis in CO-2, Cory Gardner in CO-4 and Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall) and let them know consumer choice is the only choice in light bulb consumption.