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Dim bulbs making the rules
Jan. 13, 2014
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by Ivan Raconteur

A few dim bulbs have taken it upon themselves to tell the rest of us what kind of light bulbs we can use.

As of January 1, businesses in the US are effectively prohibited from manufacturing or importing traditional general-service incandescent light bulbs.

The change is the result of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. To be clear, the law addresses efficiency, not specifically how that efficiency is achieved.

The new standards phased out 100-watt incandescent bulbs in 2012, and 75-watt bulbs last year.

Now, 40- and 60-watt bulbs are on their way out.

When retailers’ current inventory is depleted, that will be the end of these bulbs.

Some bulbs are exempt from the EISA standards, including three-way bulbs, candelabra bulbs, colored lights, bug lights, and appliance bulbs.

Replacements will have to provide the same amount of light (measured in lumens) for a lower energy cost.

Fortunately, we have plenty of options available to us today.

The fact is, the demise of the iconic incandescent bulbs doesn’t bother me, since I have already replaced most of the incandescent bulbs at the bachelor pad with newer, more efficient models, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Halogen incandescent bulbs are also available.

Apart from the higher initial cost, I have found alternatives that fit my needs.

What I object to in all of this is the government telling us what kind of light bulbs we can use.

Government is a necessary evil, and it fulfills certain important roles, but I don’t think Americans need Uncle Sam to tell them what kind of light bulbs they can use.

Frankly, I get a bit nervous any time a representative from the government starts talking about efficiency. I’m pretty sure they don’t grasp the concept of efficiency, or, if they do, they don’t have a great track record of achieving it.

Traditional incandescents are inefficient, converting 90 percent or more of the energy used into heat, rather than light.

EISA mandated that all screw-in light bulbs must use 25 percent less electricity by 2014, and 65 percent less by 2020.

I don’t see anything wrong with more efficient light bulbs.

I suspect most people are in favor of saving money, but a large percentage of the population has failed to warm to the cooler, more efficient new bulbs.

Some object to the slower start-up time of some of the new bulbs, and others don’t like the quality of the light.

Many fans of the traditional incandescent bulbs have already started to stockpile them, knowing they aren’t being manufactured anymore.

Eventually, however, supplies will run out, and the legislation will effectively force people to buy products they may not want.

As a matter of personal opinion, I think it makes sense to use the newer bulbs, even though some have drawbacks of their own, such as CFLs containing a small amount of mercury.

Let’s face it – traditional incandescent bulbs use technology that is about 140 years old. They have served us well, but it is time to move on.

I suspect most people will eventually get used to the new bulbs (but it should be up to consumers, not bureaucrats to decide which bulbs we can use).

I am also confident that as more and more consumers move away from incandescents, manufacturers will continue to develop new and even better options.

Adapting to new alternatives, saving energy, and improving efficiency are all good things. Allowing the government to manage every aspect of our lives, however, is not.

Even as we say goodbye to the familiar old bulbs and embrace the new ones, we should be on our guard to be sure the government that is supposed to be representing us doesn’t leave us all in the dark.


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