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Energy Efficiency phase 3 of light bulb phase out takes effect jan 1 2014

Published on December 20th, 2013 | by Tina Casey

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What If They Changed A Light Bulb And Nobody Cared?

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December 20th, 2013 by
 
A new survey of consumer attitudes toward household lighting is out, and the timing is perfect. On New Year’s Day the next phase of a federal law will ban the manufacture and import of 40 and 60 watt light bulbs that don’t meet new energy efficiency standards. So, if you’re a big fan of cheap, inefficient light bulbs, they are going to be harder to find.

The new survey, the SYLVANIA Socket Survey, is the sixth in an annual series from lighting giant OSRAM SYLVANIA. It provides a big, fat clue as to why the deadline is being met with a cone of silence.

See, we figured that the new light bulb deadline would elicit howls of protest from our favorite right-wing (okay, so Republican) legislators and pundits. That’s what happened when the first two phases took effect, this year and in 2012, covering 100-watt and 75-watt bulbs.

phase 3 of light bulb phase out takes effect jan 1 2014

Light bulbs by Matt Hutchinson.

Instead, we’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop. As in, cricket chirps.

The SYLVANIA Socket Survey

It could be that everybody is waiting under the table until the holiday dust settles, and then they’ll spring out and surprise us. After all, 2014 is an election year.

However, the SYLVANIA Socket Survey shows why, even if the anti-efficiency set drops the Marcel Marceau pose in 2014, nobody will care.

That’s because, nobody cares.

To be more accurate, a clear majority of people are not paying attention, and if they are, most of them are planning to switch to more efficient new lighting.

Specifically, almost 60 percent of American consumers are not even aware that it will be harder to get conventional 40 and 60-watt incandescent bulbs after January 1.

The survey also found that 65 percent of American consumers plan to make the switch, leaving just 30 percent who say they’ll stick with the old, inefficient ones. That’s a pretty sizable minority but that’s what they’re saying now. They might say something else as the price of new lighting technology down and aesthetic appeal goes up, especially when their annoying neighbors start bragging about the lifecycle savings.

Other than that, the survey contains few surprises. For example, when asked what they look for in a light bulb, people rate energy efficiency and lifespan just a little behind brightness:

Respondents say that brightness (92%), followed by lifespan (87%) and then energy usage (82%) and price (82%) are of the highest importance when choosing which bulb to buy.

Light Bulb Ban: Cue The Outrage!

Actually, for now we’re sticking with our hiding-under-the-table theory. When you break the Socket Survey down by age, the people who care the least are also less likely to vote Republican:

Millennials tend to be less aware of the phase-out. Only 38 percent of millennials know about the phase-out in general, while 68 percent of those aged 35-54 and 71 percent of those over the age of 55 are aware of the legislation.

Now combine the breakdown by age with the short lifespan of conventional incandescent bulbs, and you have to wonder why Republican legislators would push this light bulb thing to begin with.


To be blunt about it, getting up on a chair or a ladder to change a light bulb is not exactly the safest way to spend your free time as you get older, and by encouraging older voters to engage in this activity more frequently, you are basically killing off your constituency.

Okay, so that’s not our problem, but just sayin’.

Anyways, it’s far too late for Republican legislators to repeal the phase-out law (which dates back to the Bush Administration, btw), and they can’t yell too loudly without annoying their donors in the lighting industry, but that won’t stop them from riling up the base with at least a smattering of peeps and squawks as election season heats up.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Pauly

    .
    Well now Tina…

    ” The survey also found that 65 percent of American consumers plan to make the switch, leaving just 30 percent who say they’ll stick with the old, inefficient ones. That’s a pretty sizable minority but that’s what they’re saying now. They might say something else as the price of new lighting technology down and aesthetic appeal goes up, especially when their annoying neighbors start bragging about the lifecycle savings.”

    OK so what is the point of the ban then ??!!
    New bulbs great and most will want to buy them.

    No point in that case banning the old ones for those who still want them for particular uses (and, yes, it is a ban, the supposedly allowed halogen 72W for 100W etc incandescent bulbs banned too on EISA 2014-2017 45 lm/W final rule).

    New bulbs great = No point banning the old ones
    New bulbs not great = No point banning the old ones

    Strange anyway, banning a popular simple safe product, with marginal savings and mostly using surplus evening-night electricity which is why such usage is much cheaper on time based pricing.
    Plenty of other and better ways to reduce electricity usage!
    Even if targeting bulbs politically wanted, then say bankrupt California Gov could tax the bulbs and much else they ban, making money while reducing use and keeping choice.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Some people are penny wise and pound foolish. They would purchase 50c incandescents because they have a lower sticker price rather than a ~$8 LED. And they’d then spend hundreds of dollars more in the following years on replacement bulbs and electricity.

      If their foolishness didn’t have an impact on the rest of us there would be no reason to eliminate the cheap incandescent option. But we all cook together on an overheated planet.

      What is happening is that we are starting to protect ourselves from the actions of the foolish.

    • A Real Libertarian

      Also, California isn’t bankrupt.

      They solved the whole deficit problem by hiking taxes.

      Wow, the solution to not enough revenue is to get more revenue?

      Who’d a-thunk it?

  • mlebauer

    Do you actually own any CFLs? Or just parrot advocates’ talking points?

    CFLs do NOT last much longer than incandescents, if at all. Mine burn out all the time. I’ve tried different brands, they all seem to be the same. There is a huge discrepancy in individual unit life, some go out very quickly, others last something closer to claimed life.

    Further, some take a loooong time to warm up. They don’t dim well, even the “dimmable” units with expensive CFL compatible switches. And the color isn’t uniform. But those are minor annoyances compared with the lifespan problem.

    LEDs are supposed to solve most of these problems, but they’re still fairly expensive. And I’m still jaded from the cost of the last foray into supposed miracle bulbs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I own all CFLs except for the 2 LEDs I recently purchased.

      Oh, there’s an incandescent in my refrigerator and another on my chain saw grinder.

      My oldest CFL is over 15 years old. I finally got so dim I retired it and replaced it with a 50 cent CFL. I have never had a CFL burn out.

      CFLs don’t last well if you put them in a heat-trapping fixture such as a ceiling can. They aren’t good for outside lights. And some brands certainly seem better than others.

      You can get a Cree 9.5w LED from Home Depot for $10 or less (the price moves up and down). If you pay anywhere around the US average cost for electricity (12c/kWh) the bulb will pay for itself in about a year and then give you 15+ years of ~$10/year savings.

      Most people would consider that a great investment.

      • mlebauer

        So, in addition to changing out my dimmer switches ($30 each, 2 per circuit, typically) your recommendation is that I replace all ceiling cans at $100-150 each? Since I have at least 60 recessed cans, and on at least 15 separate circuits, that’s at least an $8K investment.

        My power bill is about $200 / month, and lighting is no more than 20% of that, if I save some $30/month it would take me some 265 months to recoup that investment (over 22 years), not counting net present value discounting, which would make it even longer. Some savings!

        Besides, where do I put my ceiling lights, ugly protruding fixtures?

        • A Real Libertarian

          LEDs.

          • mlebauer

            The dimmable LEDs are more like $15-25 for recessed fixtures, which works out to $1200. It’s still a 40 month payback.

          • A Real Libertarian

            1. $10 for Cree.

            2. 40 month payback is not worth it? Somebody doesn’t get investing.

          • mlebauer

            Not for dimmable recessed units.
            If you read my post…I already have CFLs in all these fixtures. So I won’t get much energy savings, only the hoped for extra longevity from LEDs.
            The point is that the premise of CFLs were to save money. They haven’t and they have inferior performance to incandescents. Now you’re promising LEDs will…I’ll wait & see. Burned once, twice shy.

          • A Real Libertarian

            “If you read my post…I already have CFLs in all these fixtures.”

            I read your post, nothing in it about that, only that changing the fixtures for CFLs would cost $8,000. You’ve edited it to hide that. Very naughty.

            “The point is that the premise of CFLs were to save money. They haven’t and they have inferior performance to incandescents.”

            Another lie.

            You going to edit this too?

          • Bob_Wallace

            CFLs don’t last in enclosed fixtures.

            You are going to have to replace them with something other than CFLs.

            You can buy a few cases of incandescents while they are still in the store or you can start buying LEDs.

            Do the math. You’ll find LEDs cheaper than incandescents.

          • Bob_Wallace

            40 months = 3.3 years.

            Rule of 72. 3.3 year to reach break even = 21.8% return on investment.
            A fixed 21.8% investment opportunity does not come around every year. Especially a tax free 21.8% investment.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I suggest you don’t put CFLs in ceiling cans. They get hot and fail early.
          I suggest you use LEDs.

          Sounds like you went a little heavy on the recessed can idea…..

    • TinaCasey

      I put CFLs all around my house about six years ago after watching the documentary “Kilowatt Ours” and almost all of them are still right where I first screwed them in. I buy from reputable brands so maybe that’s why they have been so reliable. In a small house or apartment you don’t particularly save a lot of money on your utility bill but there’s a significant difference in terms of the convenience of rarely having to change your bulbs, or for that matter having to run out to the store to get new ones.

      • mds

        …and LED bulbs are sooo much better than CFLs. Lower power use and last way longer.

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        “I buy from reputable brands so maybe that’s why they have been so reliable.”

        Ha, indeed :D

  • anderlan

    I’ve considered getting a couple of newer (slightly) more efficient tungsten bulbs for my 8-buble master vanity fixture (presently it’s got CFLs and standard tungstens staggered across for a good variety of light frequencies), even though I’ve only bought CFLs and LEDs for several years now. I’m half very excited that wattage is now separated from lumens on bulb packaging and half very, very angry that it took 50+ years for it to happen!

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