The light bulb ban that wasn't

Heard the news? Incandescent light bulbs will be banned come 2012. The government will force you to buy mercury-laden CFLs or expensive LED bulbs… so better start stockpiling the light bulbs now!

You may have run across this rhetoric, especially now that California has chosen to implement upcoming federal standards a year early (they started on January 1). You may be tempted to pick up a case or two of incandescents. But if you dig just a bit deeper, you’ll find that much of the rhetoric surrounding these new regulations is just that…

Repeat after me: there is no light bulb ban on the horizon.

Yes, Congress did pass, and President Bush did sign, an energy bill in 2007 that established new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. But that’s all the law does… it doesn’t ban any particular technology. According to Noah Horowitz at the NRDC’s Switchboard blog,

The law simply requires new bulbs, beginning in 2012, to use 25 percent to 30 percent less power than today’s conventional incandescent bulb. The law is technology neutral and allows any type of bulb to be sold as long as it is a reasonably efficient one. Consumers will have lots of choices including energy saving halogens, CFLs, LEDs, and even new and improved incandescent lamps.

That’s right… incandescents will still be legal. For several years now, the major bulb makers have been working on more efficient incandescent bulbs that will meet the new standards. Rather than an onerous government mandate, the efficiency law spurred innovation.

So, yes, you’ll still have plenty of choice in the light bulb market… maybe even more. And the CFLs and mercury thing… that’s also a bit overstated

What kinds of lighting are you using? How’s it working for you, in terms of providing the light you need, and keeping the electricity bills down? Let us know…


Image credit: shuttermonkey at Flickr under a Creative Commons license