Not even the full power of the feared federal government can quash the ingenuity and free enterprise that runs through the veins of American entrepreneurs.
Take, for example, the national ban on incandescent light bulbs in favor of low-energy units. Seventy-five watt and higher incandescent bulbs dropped off store shelves a year ago, and the popular 40s and 60s will disappear Jan. 1.
A New Jersey company owner already has ramped up production of a new product, called a “Newcandescent,” which is available now in many sizes, including 75 watt and 100 watt.
Larry Birnbaum, owner of the Light Bulb Store in South Hackensack, says the new low-energy requirements for bulbs means something had to change. Consumers would have to move to other light sources, compact fluorescents or LEDS, which he sells, he said.
Or, he could start marketing an incandescent bulb that apparently is exempt from the new energy rules: the “rough service” bulb.
Normally a small portion of the market, the “rough service” bulbs are made for less-stable conditions, such as in a moving vehicle.
But he told New Jersey.com that he made a few changes to the typical “rough” incandescent to meet new federal standards, “including using krypton gas to make it last 10 times longer.”
His website offers them in sizes ranging from 25 watts and up. One hundred, 200 and 300 watts are no problem. Frosted and clear. In flood and globe sizes.
He sells the “60-Watt Rough Service A-19 Frosted Bulb” for $2.88. It operates at 130 volts and “is proudly made in the U.S.A. and fulfills all US Department of Energy regulations. The average lifespan of a Newcandescent 60-watt bulb, the site says, is seven years, or 10,000 hours.
The Newcandescents are not as energy-efficient as some alternatives, but they provide a more natural light that consumers have grown accustomed to over the years.
It is true that the traditional bulbs are going away due to a 2007 law that requires, as of Jan. 1, a 40 watt bulb to draw just 10.5 watts of electricity and a 60 watt bulb to draw just 11 watts.
Those levels are achieved more readily with alternative products, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, experts say.
The law makes it illegal to import or make such bulbs starting Jan. 1. Home Depot spokesman Mark Voykovic told Fox News his chain anticipates running out of their stock of 40-watt to 60- watt bulbs six months into 2014.
The issue for some people is that CFLs emit a pale blue (5,000-6,500 Kelvin) or whiter (3,500-4,100K) light. It doesn’t match the familiar glow of an incandescent light bulb (2,700-3,000K).
Decorator Bunny Williams told the New York Times in 2011 she had been hoarding traditional bulbs for years.
Another problem with CFLs is their price, several dollars per bulb. LEDs are sold in the range of $12 or $13 per bulb.
Birnbaum said he plans to start shipping the alternative bulbs in January for about $1.65 each.
WND previously has reported concerns about the safety of compact fluorescents, which contain mercury. The 2007 law also didn’t address issues raised by a study in the United Kingdom that concluded CFLs “are a fire hazard that could burn down your home.”
In Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has proposed overturning the ban unless it could be shown that CFLs do not present a safety risk.
WND reported a team of some 15 members of the U.S. House, including Bachmann, introduced H.R. 91 to repeal parts of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which has been described as a “de facto ban” on the incandescent light bulb.
At the time, Bachmann said: “The government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy. In 2007, Congress overstepped its bounds by mandating that only ‘energy efficient’ light bulbs may be sold after Jan. 1, 2012. This mandate has sweeping effects on American families and businesses and needs serious consideration before taking effect.”
“CFLs are so toxic because of the mercury in the glass tubing that the cleanup procedure spelled out by the Environmental Protection Agency is downright scary. The EPA warns that if we break a CFL, we must take the pieces to a recycling center and not launder ‘clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage,’” she wrote at the time the ban began.
“CFLs must be rather dangerous if they will pollute the sewage,” she said.
Members of Congress have noted CFL drawbacks:
- Most CFLs are not manufactured in the United States. A Washington Post story reported that GE is shuttering a plant in Winchester, Va., killing 200 jobs in the process.
- CFLs contain mercury and have to be disposed of carefully. The amount of mercury in one bulb is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. The EPA recommends an elaborate cleanup ritual, including throwing away any clothes or bedding that has come in direct contact with the mercury from the bulb.
- CFLs are not designed to be turned off and on frequently; the lifespan of a CFL may be reduced by up to 85 percent if it’s switch off and on a lot.
- People with certain health conditions can be harmed by CFLs. Reactions range from disabling eczema-like reactions to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer.
- And the Energy Star program warns that CFLs can overheat and smoke.