Biden’s incandescent light bulb ban: Thankfully, I stocked up!

By Barbara Simpson

I remember several years ago I read that the government was phasing out the selling of regular incandescent light bulbs. That was back in 2007 when George W. Bush was president. Congress passed the bill, and Bush signed it.

Given how things work (or don’t work) in Washington, the law was never fully enforced. Some retail stores slowly reduced their stock of incandescent bulbs, but they remained on the shelves along with the newfangled LED bulbs that are supposed to replace them.

Needless to say, since we have used the regular incandescent bulbs for our entire lives – the movement to make a change was slow. Since the regular bulbs continued to be manufactured and available, there really wasn’t any push to make a change in our lighting habits.

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I admit that back in 2007, I took the news of the change in the law with skepticism and decided I would make my own decisions as to what kind of bulbs I would be using in my own home.

I decided to stock up – buying extras of varied incandescent wattages and indeed also special ordering several cases of bulbs. Yes, I did! I’m set for years!

The original rule was on the books since the Bush administration, but it was rolled back under Trump. Not to be outdone, the Biden administration updated it last year, setting an effective date of Aug. 1, this year. After that, incandescent bulbs can’t be sold in the U.S.

The issue is the amount of light the bulbs emit, measured by lumens of light. The Biden law requires that bulbs emit a minimum of 45 lumens per watt. Since traditional incandescent bulbs emit just 15 lumens per watt, they have to be GONE!

Part of the push for the LED bulbs is that they are supposed to produce better, more efficient light for our homes. The Energy Department says that when people make the switch to the LED bulbs, it will save close to $3 billion dollars on utility bills. That may have to do with the amount of electricity used but has nothing to do with the kind of light we want in our homes.

Also – and let us not omit this – the Energy Department says the switch will cut planet-warming carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years!

Of course! Why does that not surprise me?

Another thing that is not surprising, is that the new LED bulbs are substantially more expensive than the old incandescent bulbs. A study by the University of Michigan found that the cost to upgrade to LED bulbs was twice as high in high-poverty urban areas.

Despite all the figures, the average person prefers the warm incandescent light, so they continue to be purchased and used. It remains to be seen how the change will take place.

In addition to the higher cost of the LED bulbs is the issue of the quality of the light they emit. It is brighter and more white, versus the softer light from the incandescents.

The government is formally eliminating the design of Thomas Edison from our lives, and at this point, there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.

We can still use the bulbs we have, but eventually, we’ll not be able to purchase new ones. The ban is only on the manufacture and sale of bulbs that produce fewer than 45 lumens per watt. We’ll still be able to buy incandescent bulbs for appliances, specialty lamps and flood lights.

But the government isn’t finished with bulbs. The December 2022 rule would more than double the minimum light bulb efficiency level, which would effectively ban all CFLs – compact fluorescent bulbs! That rule is expected to go into effect by the end of 2024.

At least, they say, we’ll still be able to buy our traditional Christmas lights!

Thanks, Joe.

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