Sidebar No. 1: The Truth About the Bulb "Ban"
Political hopefuls have based speeches surrounding the issue, and major news outlets have written stories about interior designers’ and restaurateurs’ plans for hoarding, but the National Lighting Bureau (NLB), the Silver Spring, Md.-based independent, not-for-profit, lighting information source, urges the lighting community to set the record straight. Contrary to popular belief, incandescent lamps have not been banned. “People are not being given good information about lighting,” says NLB’s Executive Director John Bachner, who blames poor media coverage for the confusion about the phaseout of 100W, 75W, 60W, and 40W incandescent lamps from the national inventory. “Incandescent lighting is not being eliminated or outlawed,” he emphasizes.
According to NLB, only the least-efficient, commonly used versions for which far more efficient and cost-effective alternatives are available, including incandescent alternatives, are being eliminated. “As long as people pick the right bulb for the result they want, in terms of lighting quality and dimmability, for example, the alternatives available right now can do everything positive that incandescent lamps do while costing much less, consuming far less energy, and contributing far less to our greenhouse-gas and air-borne mercury problems,” Bachner states.
The controversy stems from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which contained maximum wattage standards for all general-service incandescent lamps product from 310 to 2,600 lumens. The original time line for these standards was to begin January 2012, but the final 2012 budget legislation, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2011, effectively delayed the start until October 2012.
At that time, wattages for 100W bulbs are required to drop by 27%, meaning a former 100W bulb will use only 72W of power, yet emit a comparable amount of light. The law will be phased in over the next several years, affecting 75W lamps in 2013 and 60W and 40W lamps in 2014.
With only improved efficiency on the line, Bachner urges the lighting community to speak up about the new standards. “Share your knowledge,” he says. “Educate people. The new lighting-efficiency targets require people to give up nothing in terms of lighting quality, convenience, and versatility. The only thing they really require people to do is decide about the kind of lamp they want to use and how much money they want to save. That’s not a bad thing.”