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Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Goes Into Effect

by on December 31, 2013
in Home Improvement, News, Health and Home, Blog, Green Tech :: 37 comments

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broken incandescent light bulbTime has just about run out for the energy-wasting incandescent light bulb. Starting January 1, 2014, companies in the United States will no longer be able to manufacture or import standard 40-watt and 60-watt wire filament light bulbs.

If you can’t do without the old-style incandescent bulbs, there’s no need to race out to your local home improvement store to beat the New Year’s deadline. Stores and warehouses will be able to sell existing stock on hand until they run out. There’s no telling exactly when this will be, though a check of my local Home Depot earlier today showed there are still plenty on the shelves.

Of course, the point of the incandescent phase out is to encourage Americans to use more efficient bulbs like halogens, LEDs and compact fluorescents (CFL). One 7-watt CFL bulb can produce the same amount of light as a 40-watt incandescent, saving you $33 in electricity on average over the life of the bulb. These new bulbs last about 10 times longer than the older tech, too.

Don’t let the ugly, harsh, flickering CFLs of yesteryear cloud your opinion on the tech – energy-efficient light bulbs have drastically improved in quality since. Inexpensive new dimmer switches work perfectly with CFLs and bulbs now come in warmer shades of white. Look for bulbs labeled "warm white" or "soft white" and have a color temperature of 2700K, the same as incandescent bulbs. If you want full control of your lighting, check out the Philips hue. It’s a WiFi-enabled, color-changing bulb you can set to the exact shade you want with your smartphone.

[Broken light bulb via Shutterstock]

Discussion loading

Incandescent bulbs are not being banned

From Brian Martin on January 02, 2014 :: 12:22 pm

The headline and article are misleading. Incandescent bulbs are being made more efficient and will be sold based on the actual light output (lumens) rather than watts. See this link from the EPA for additional information:


True, but...

From Josh Kirschner on January 03, 2014 :: 5:29 pm

Incadescent bulbs are not being banned, however, incadescent bulbs that don’t meet the efficiency requirements (with certain exclusions) can no longer be manufactured or imported - in effect, banned. “Standard” incadescents cannot meet these requirements. Halogen bulbs (technically, incadescent, but not genrally thought of by consumers that way) do meet these requirements and can still be sold. Philips EcoVantage line being one example of the new halogen bulbs.


light bulbs

From Ray on January 05, 2014 :: 9:20 pm

an Edison filament light bulb is like a model T ford, Its old technology. There is no updates in its original form that will make it efficient enough to meet new standard. The language in the mandate does not suggest there is.


Bad Experiences with CFLs and LEDs

From VEK on January 02, 2014 :: 10:48 pm

I have tried both CFLs and LEDs.  In many areas I want a high level of light (equivalent to 150 watts in some spaces and 250 watts in other spaces).  I’ve managed to find a few (very expensive)CFL and LED bulbs providing a sufficient level of light.  None of them have lasted more than 3 months (with 2 to 3 hours of daily use).  My experience with inexpensive “three-way” incandescent bulbs has regularly been 9 or more months before the higher watt option dies and the bulb must be replaced.  In my opinion, CFLs and LEDs are “not ready for Prime Time”.  They do not provide adequate light for any reasonable period of time and are a colossal waste of money.


CFL have not lasted long for me either

From Matt on January 05, 2014 :: 4:29 pm

I have tried CFL’s, but they don’t seem to last as long as standard incandescent bulbs. Out of the last pack of eight that I purchased, 4 didn’t even last a year. Considering how much more they cost over incandescent bulbs, I would have saved money sticking with the older technology.


Just the opposite experience.

From Kevin Fields on January 07, 2014 :: 4:11 am

I jumped onto CFLs when they first became available here several years ago. In 2013 I replacing most of those very first bulbs. The key to making them last long is to not use them in areas where the bulb will be cycled on and off several times in a day. If you’re going to be in and out of a room multiple times in a day, just leave the bulb on. My least effective area in my home for CFL bulbs has been the overhead fan in my living room, but even there the small 13-watt bulbs I use last around a year.


longer life of CFLs is a lie

From Jamie on January 08, 2014 :: 12:15 pm

I have, unfortunately, tried many CFLs as replacements for my incandescent light bulbs, and the advertised/propagandized “lasts 8-10 times longer” is just bull!  The CFL floodlights in my kitchen die just as rapidly as the incandescent light bulbs - but cost 3-5x more.  The CFLs I put in my outdoor lighting kept blowing out as well. (I live in Florida, so cold weather can’t be blamed for this massive fail.)

I went on New Year’s Eve and bought 36 60-watt candelabra bulbs and 24 65-watt flood lights for my kitchen - all incandescents - so I’ll be able to see what I cook and eat for the next several years without having to call the EPA when a bulb breaks.

Thank you, Al Gore, for promoting vaporized mercury as a way to save the planet from “having a fever”.


Have you considered the possibility

From Kevin Fields on January 08, 2014 :: 6:53 pm

Have you considered the possibility that your electrical wiring may be faulty and causing an issue?

Also, as was noted by somebody else, sometimes with some CFL bulbs if the socket is in an upside-down position, the heat build-up could cause some issues with premature life. In those cases, I would suggest switching to an LED or halogen incandescent bulb.
In installed a new outdoor light four years ago and placed an outdoor CFL bulb there. I live in Kentucky, we don’t have too many harsh winters (this week marks either my forth or fifth in the last 17 years), but it does stay pretty cold frequently enough in winter.



From Maggiemae on January 03, 2014 :: 4:00 pm

What about the small candelabra bulbs? There is no substitute for them. The little bulbs can be expensive but they are low watt and they last a long time. I can’t imagine a dining room light fixture with ugly CFL bulbs in it!


They're exempt from the requirements

From Josh Kirschner on January 03, 2014 :: 5:00 pm

The requirements generally only apply to “standard sized” bulds. Bulbs with smaller bases, those under 40 watts, 3-way lamps and “speciality” bulbs (e.g., appliance lights and marine lights) are excluded.



From Dave Seavy on January 06, 2014 :: 12:28 am

Actually, there are CFL and LED candelabra-style bulbs.  The biggest objection I have to CFLs is that their longevity is worse than incandescent.  If they are put in enclosed fixtures or are upside down, the heat generated by the ballast destroys it and rather rapidly. I’ve switched to LED everything, and am happy with the results.  I did this two years ago and all lamps are still functioning.  Along with this, I cut my energy bill by 2/3’s so they’ve already paid for themselves.


If the new rules exempt

From Teri on January 05, 2014 :: 3:58 am

If the new rules exempt bulbs under 40W, I sure hope somebody starts making 39W bulbs.  I can’t stand the new ones.


I tried CFLs. Really, I

From skaizun on January 05, 2014 :: 11:27 am

I tried CFLs. Really, I did. Unfortunately, NONE of them lasted ANY longer than my incandescents, and I saw NO significant drop in my electric bill, probably because the price of fuel keeps going up, thus negating any savings on the bulbs. So, I, for one, have stocked-up on incandescents, and will go kicking and screaming into the forced future.


The "efficient" incandescent bulbs are a ripoff.

From Raven on January 05, 2014 :: 8:30 pm

The wattage of them is based upon 130volt power.
No one in the USA has 130volt power in their homes. It is 120volts instead. Which means while they use 10%+- less electricity, they produce 20% less light.
so a 60watt light bulb only produces the light of a 50watt lightbulb.

Just another way to cheat the American Consumer.
As for CFLs they suck, they’re hazardous, both from mercury, and fire hazzards. They do not last much longer than incandescents and 1 out of a pack of 3 doesn’t work at all so far.


Remember Tube Fluorescents!

From RossMeltonJr on January 06, 2014 :: 11:23 am

CFL just employs the regular screw-base socket, for folks who won’t upgrade.  The long, tube-type fluorescents are still available; you just have to have the fixture with the ballast to use them, and they run the same as the CFLs, last as long as they always did.  I don’t understand why the fuss!


I've stocked up

From Bill from Michigan on January 06, 2014 :: 1:34 pm

I probably use three 100 W bulbs, two 3 ways, six 60 watts and four 60 W floods a year.  I went on line and stocked up for the next ten years.  Maybe by then they’ll have an adequate incandescent replacement


CFL and LED lighting makes me sick...literally.

From Fred from WV on January 06, 2014 :: 3:20 pm

I have a painful neurological disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia with Persistent Unilateral Headache. My optic nerve cannot filter the wavelength and flickering of CFL or LED. If I spend minutes in CFL or LED light I get very intense head and eye pain. Life is about to get a lot more uncomfortable for me it seems. Guess I need to fill a closet full of 25watt and 40watt bulbs to use for light in my own home.


right there with you

From Sacha Mirage on January 08, 2014 :: 1:57 am

Hey Fred,

I’m sort of in the same boat. I have seizures in response to certain triggers, such as fluorescent lights. CFL and LED bulbs both trigger my seizures. I’m not sure why CFLs do it, because the flicker should be at a rate that is imperceptibly high, but maybe it has to do with the wavelength like you mentioned. Regardless, I went online and stocked up on a 100 year supply each of 100 watt and 60 watt bulbs, just in case.

I’ve spent the past few years writing to politicians and talking to people online and in my community about this issue. The responses have been disheartening—everything from people accusing me of lying for political reasons to claiming I’m delusional because supposedly there’s no medical way this could happen to me (my neurologist disagrees) to being told that the horrible effects this ban will cause for some people is worth it for the benefit to the masses.

I wish you the best and hope for both of our sakes that a better option comes out soon.



It sounds like both Fred

From Kevin Fields on January 08, 2014 :: 7:01 pm

It sounds like both Fred and Sacha would benefit from halogen incandescent bulbs.


Let people choose for themselves

From chris from mt on January 06, 2014 :: 8:53 pm

I’ve been using compact fluoros since the early 90s since I liked the efficiency.  BUT the government has no business paternally mandating what people can choose for themselves.  I have bulbs in a basement area where it would take a decade for mercury vapor to evacuate based on restricted airflow and pocket effect, and the last three LED lights I bought burned out in less than a month (high quality overseas manufacturing) with a fourth about to go.  Buzz off, big brother government, however well intentioned.


RE: "Let people choose for themselves"

From Kevin Fields on January 08, 2014 :: 7:25 am

But people do not have a right to waste and squander a common resource such as electricity. If you want to manufacture your own inefficient bulbs, go right ahead, the government can’t stop you. But they can regulate commerce and as such can use that power to demand that consumers use more energy efficient products. Switching to more energy efficient light bulbs, on a national scale, is going to help reduce energy use quite a bit.


Kevin Fields: "the government can’t

From Jamie on January 08, 2014 :: 12:24 pm

Kevin Fields: “the government can’t stop you. But they can regulate commerce and as such can use that power to demand that consumers use more energy efficient products”.

WRONG!  The federal government can regulate INTERstate commerce.  It is not allowed - by the Constitution (FWIW) - to regulate commerce within a state.

Local governments (i.e., counties and cities) already control the common resources - it’s called monopoly on utilities.  If the local governments want to put limits on how water, electric, and gas are used, that is within their purview to do so, under both federal law and state and local constitutions and charters.  But the federal government has no say in the matter.

Did the government have to regulate away the horse-and-buggy?  No - a more effective, efficient, and convenient way of travel came about and replaced it in the marketplace.

Did the government have to regulate away candles (it could have, under “public safety”)?  No - a more effective, efficient, and convenient way of illumination (interior and exterior) came about and replaced it in the marketplace.

Let consumers vote with their dollars, stop federal government regulations from driving up the price of everything (from light bulbs to energy production), and actually follow the Constitution instead of re-writing it to a Nanny State.


So, how many light bulb

From Kevin Fields on January 08, 2014 :: 1:23 pm

So, how many light bulb manufacturers are going to open a plant in every state and then file a lawsuit against the government on the basis that they’re complying with intrastate commerce? Not gonna happen.

As such, Congress does get to set national energy policies, and as such, through the EPA, it can implement the regulations. If you don’t like Congress exercising that power, then petition your lawmakers to vote otherwise, and enact rules to limit their abilities. If that doesn’t work, start a campaign to vote in politicians who will bend to your will.

doesn't make sense

From Sacha Mirage on January 08, 2014 :: 1:14 pm

Your logic doesn’t really make sense though. People are allowed to use as much electricity as they want, as long as they pay for it. If that’s your argument, have the government limit how much electricity each person can use, rather than how they use it.

Lighting actually makes up a relatively small percentage of the average house’s energy usage. I don’t use a giant television, a garbage disposal, or any number of other common electricity-sucking appliances—so why can’t I have the only kind of lights I can use instead?

The fact is, forcing people to make a particular kind of change that has serious medical consequences for a percentage of people so that more people don’t have to regulate their usage in any inconvenient way is antithetical to the freedoms on which this country was supposedly founded and is, quite frankly, wrong.


"People are allowed to use

From Kevin Fields on January 08, 2014 :: 3:03 pm

“People are allowed to use as much electricity as they want…” 

Yes, USE, but not waste. I’m not arguing that people should be restricted on their usage, but from a point of view where America is trying to secure its energy independence (and now has, according to recent reports), then it makes no sense to let energy be wasted passively.

You don’t have a giant television? I do. Wanna know how much energy it uses a year? About $13. It’s way more efficient than my 27” Sony Trinitron. And, do you know why? It wasn’t because Sony wanted to save me some money, it’s because the EPA demanded more energy-efficient televisions. All of the appliances that you can buy today, in fact, are more energy efficient than appliances from just a few years ago, and are so efficient the financial difference is made up within a few short years of ownership. Nobody is forcing you to go buy new appliances, but when you do need to replace those appliances, you’re going to find it rather difficult to find those older appliances that waste more energy.

Incandescent bulbs are not banned, but inefficient bulbs are. Halogen bulbs operate using the exact same technology as tungsten bulbs, they come in an even wider variety of colors and warmth, same variety of luminance, and do it using less electricity. Anybody who has a medical condition that is sensitive to light will find a convenient transition from tungsten to incandescent lighting.

Let's really examine those supposed energy savings

From Swingdiva on January 09, 2014 :: 9:16 pm

By the time you factor in what it costs to properly dispose of mercury-containing CFCs, there are no savings at all.  In fact, in some cases the total cost of making, using and disposing of CFCs is greater than for incandescents by the time you add in what consumers are charged by disposal companies for proper disposal.  You might as well stick with the incandescents, in that case.  The idea that CFCs save money once all the costs are factored in is a lie.  And if you *don’t* factor in the disposal costs, you’re just being an idiot.

Some of us still have problems getting our municipalities, landlords, management companies and/or disposal companies to recycle anything at all, never mind something specialized like CFCs (which can’t go into the regular garbage).  I live in suburban Chicago, and my multiunit building doesn’t recycle anything at all ... because if we did sort the recyclables from the landfill waste, our disposal company would actually charge us MORE for pick-up.  And our village won’t pick up garbage and recyclables from any building with more than three units (ours is a condo complex with 82 units).  So where’s the incentive there??  Still, I sort my own recyclables and tote them myself once a month to the village drop-off site—which, BTW, costs me gasoline because I have to drive there.

BTW, when did we get the cockamamie idea that haalogen lights are more efficient?  I stopped using halogens years ago because they were *more* expensive to use, used *more* energy than incandescents, burned hotter, thus creating more heat, and were more of a fire hazard in certain fixtures, such as torchieres.  So when, exactly, did that change and who documented it???  Meanwhile, where’s my ‘green’ substitute for a GE Reveal 3-way bulb?  I need a good, natural spectrum reading light that doesn’t hurt my eyes, and CFCs ain’t it.

Bottom line:  I’ll keep using incandescents until something much better than CFCs and current LEDs hit the market.  As for the rest?  Show me the real data, or shut up.  Then tell my municipal government and the disposal company, ‘cause they sure aren’t listening to *me.*  I’d happily recycle if I weren’t being penalized for it.


I honestly don't know what

From Kevin Fields on January 12, 2014 :: 3:13 pm

I honestly don’t know what it would take for your municipality to start recycling. I live in rural Kentucky. My waste management company, Rumpke, offers recycling at no additional charge. I don’t even have to sort it, I just place anything recyclable in one bin apart from my garbage, and Rumpke sorts and recycles it at their own facility. Many other communities around Kentucky offer recycling as well, where you can bring your unsorted materials to a municipal bin.

As for CFL bulbs, they’re sent to me on-demand by my utility, Kentucky Utilities, also at no cost. They send a case of 4 in a shipping box, and when I have burned out ones I ship them back to them in the same box, postage paid by KU.

Me too

From Carol Levy on January 07, 2014 :: 4:17 pm

I also have tn.  I rely on the 25 watt bulbs (when I have lights on in the house, Because of the severe light sensitivity I try to get around my house in as low light, or no light as much as possible.

Carol Jay Levy
author A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey
Women In Pain Awareness Group
The Pained Life, 30 years, and
accredited to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities member U.N. NGO group, Persons With Disabilities

(These are my bona fides e chronic pain and tn.  If you want to learn about how tn can effect someone the first chapter of my book is available online.  We want to get out the word on this rare disorder.)


General Bulb info

From MT from ATL on January 08, 2014 :: 10:54 pm

Kevin Fields has been putting out a lot of good info:

If you must have incandescents, go halogen.  They’re just an improved, slightly more efficient version. 

CFLs (“those damn spiral bulbs”) are better than they used to be, but they’re generally an annoyance.  Mostly non-dimmable, not instantly bright, and quirky about lifespan and flickering.  The current generation of LEDs is far superior. 

The newer LEDs are great, and the price on the good ones has dropped significantly in the last year .  Older LEDs were either not very bright, expensive, or only put out light in one direction.  Good 40/60W equivalent ones are now less than $20, as bright or brighter than a standard bulb, fully dimmable, and give “omnidirectional” light like a normal bulb. 

Here’s some more info on LEDs:

They should last 20-25 years if you use them 3 hours/day (the standard for bulb comparisons).  They cost you a bit over a dollar per year in electricity versus $6-7 for an incandescent.  They also put off much less heat, which is a big plus here in the US South during the summer.  The lower heat can also be nice for your lampshades and fixtures. 

You can pick your color, from orangish like old bulbs to plain white to slightly blue “daylight” bulbs.  The soft white ones look prettier, the plain white ones look crisp and bright, and the daylight ones look a bit bluish (meaning that they look funny at first, but they will keep you more awake and alert - like natural daylight).  Personally, I prefer the plain white ones.  All bulbs sold now should be labelled with the color (if they put a number on there, <3000k is soft or warm light, ~4000k is a plain white, >5000k is daylight/bluish.  Don’t ask me how they picked that number system, it’s a bit crazy)


Mercury Anyone?

From Mike on January 09, 2014 :: 1:29 pm

How about CFLs containing mercury?  I’d sure rather have people use a little more electicity over the life of a bulb than have mercury dangling from every fixture in my house.  Having lived in several lower-class inner-city neighborhoods, I can tell you that they are not going to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way like everyone foolishly thinks will happen.  When an incandescent bult breaks, I can simply pick up and vacuum the glass without worrying about what my family is breathing.  As for energy and resources, I admittedly don’t know much about them, but it sure seems that LED lighting consumes more resources to produce than incandescent bulbs.


EPA's guidelines on CFL & mercury

From Kevin Fields on January 12, 2014 :: 3:20 pm

Here’s the EPA’s guidelines and information on mercury in CFL bulbs:

In a nutshell, because manufacturers have significantly reduced the amount of mercury in CFL bulbs, the environmental impact is much less severe. It’s still suggested to recycle them where you can, but even if you cannot it is still safe to place them in garbage that is going to a landfill. The majority of mercury pollution by humans comes from electric generation plants, and using CFL has a much larger impact of reducing mercury than it introduces into the landfill system.


Tech for the sake of tech

From Bill Miller on January 10, 2014 :: 1:07 pm

Just another gov’t effort to…what??  These new bulbs are not satisfactory, as much as the tech kids would like them to be.  I have enough incandescent light bulbs to last until this bs is turned around.  We have more than enough electricity here on the banks of the might Columbia river.


Welcome to EU insanity run

From Tomek on January 22, 2014 :: 6:15 pm

As a resident of European Union, let me welcome Americans to insane run for… em.. ecology? It’s heartwarming that U.S. government, just like E.U. knows better what is good for citizens.

Prepare for limit of vacuum cleaner power limit (beginning this year it is 1600 watts in EU), and more to come!

A hint from Poland, but don’t tell anyone. You can sell “heating bulbs” of 60 or even 100 watts. They are not light bulbs, and technically it is actually true since 95% of light bulb energy is transformed to heat.


If the number of watts

From Kevin Fields on January 22, 2014 :: 7:34 pm

If the number of watts was an indication of cleaning power, or luminance, that would be one thing. It’s not, though, it’s just a measurement of how much electricity it uses. There are many vacuums that generate plenty of suction with using less energy, and there are lightbulbs that produce more visible light with less energy. Why is it so bad that governments are encouraging products which wastes less electricity?


The EPA is not part of Congress

From Jay Bienvenu on January 23, 2014 :: 11:16 am

I don’t know why some of Kevin Fields’s comments have Reply links and some don’t, but I can’t let this one pass: “Congress does get to set national energy policies, and as such, through the EPA…”

The EPA is part of the executive branch, not Congress. It regulates (makes law) at its own whim, as do countless other agencies that Congress has created over the years.


Led light: The lighting source for the next genaration.

From Michel Obrien on March 20, 2014 :: 6:34 am

Led light is best source of lighting source in this age because it consume less amount of energy and have a brighter, better and white beam of light as compared to old incandescent lights or bulb and like government said that use led light for save the energy and making the world eco friendly, so we should shift to led light for saves energy and cost as well.



From Billy L. Parker on November 22, 2017 :: 1:07 am

I want to establish an account in order to order some incandescent 100 watt light bulbs


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