Incandescent Light BulbThe world of lighting is changing. There are hundreds of different options available to you in terms of lighting design, light fixtures and light styles. However, the changes are taking place at an even more basic level – with your light bulbs. The traditional incandescent light bulbs that many people still use are being phased out and replaced with new, more energy-efficient bulbs. Don’t worry; the transition is big news for the industry but it’s easy on you, the consumer!

What are Incandescent Light Bulbs?

Incandescent light bulbs are the traditional light bulbs that most of us have been using all of our lives. They were the standard in the lighting business (especially for residential lighting) for many decades. However, they are rapidly falling out of favor with both consumers and the industry as a whole. That is because these light bulbs are not energy-efficient. They burn out quickly and so need to be replaced often and they waste a lot of energy while they’re working. This is bad for the earth and it also means higher electricity bills for consumers.

Common Replacements for Incandescent Light Bulbs

Consumers who are interested in replacing their incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient options have had several options emerge on the market in recent years. The two major options that people select when opting to replace their incandescent light bulbs are:

1. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs). These light bulbs use only about one third of the energy that traditional incandescent light bulbs use. They are fairly affordable for the consumer. As a result, these have quickly become the new standard in the lighting industry, replacing the old incandescent bulbs as the favored choice in lighting.

2. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). These light bulbs are even more energy-efficient than CFLs. The individual bulb costs a lot more than a CFL bulb so it can be pricey to get started with using these bulbs. However, LED bulbs can last many years and are more energy-efficient than CFLs so they’re a wise investment for people seeking to switch away from incandescent light bulbs. They are especially common bulbs for under cabinet lighting, task lighting and lights on dimmer switches although improvements in their technology and some reduction in their price is making it possible that LEDs may ultimately replace CFLs as the brand new industry standard in lighting.

This is a Phase Out, Not a Recall

Many people are vaguely aware that making the switch to more energy-efficient lighting would be in their best interest but they don’t want to invest the time and money to do so. The good news is that the industry itself is making the change for you so that the old incandescent light bulbs will be phased out without any hassle for consumers. The change is coming about as a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which established new energy efficiency regulations for light bulbs. Basically what this act means is that there are new energy efficiency standards in place for light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs simply do not meet these standards. As a result, they are being phased out of the industry. They will simply begin to disappear. They will be replaced by similar bulbs that are more energy-efficient.

Example of New Energy Efficiency Requirements

Here is an example of one of the changes that will be taking place in the industry:

  • Clear, frosted and soft white general service incandescent bulbs that are currently 100W will be phased out.
  • These bulbs are in the lumen range of 1490-2600.
  • This will result in a new maximum wattage allowed of only 72 watts for bulbs in this same lumen range.

Watts vs. Lumens

One of the things that you need to know about in order to understand this is that light bulbs can be measure in both watts and lumens. Watts refer to the amount of power required to run a light bulb. So you need 100 watts (or joules per second) to run a 100 watt light bulb. Lumens refers to the measurable power of light perceived by the human eye. So a light bulb that puts out 1490-2600 lumens of light may previously have been allowed to be a 100 watt bulb but now must do that using only the 72 watts of power allowed under the new rules. This means that a light bulb that puts out the same amount of perceivable light as before will be more energy-efficient.

When The Phase Out Will Happen

Most of the nation will start seeing these changes take place in 2012 but California is leading the way by starting their changes already. Starting this year the state is phasing out 100 W incandescent light bulbs. This will be followed by phasing out 75W bulbs next year and both 60W and 40W bulbs in 2013. The rest of the nation will follow a similar phase-out schedule delayed by one year.

The Info You Need as a Lighting Consumer

It is important to understand that there isn’t a whole lot that you need to do as a consumer as this change takes place. The light bulbs that are made before the cutoff dates are grandfathered in so if they’re on the shelves then you’re welcome to buy them until they aren’t there anymore. The change is taking place at an industry level. However, the one thing that you might want to do to help yourself out as this change takes place is to gain a more complete understanding of light bulb measurements (such as watts vs. lumens). The new light bulbs will have new labels on them that provide you with information about both watts and lumens (as well as a lot of other information) and you can make shopping for the right light bulbs easier on yourself if you fully understand these new labels. We’ve got a guide for you here.

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