Say Goodbye to the Incandescent Light Bulb

Say Goodbye to the Incandescent Light Bulb

Incandescent light bulbsOn January 1, 2012 the incandescent light bulb will start to disappear from store shelves across the land of the free, taking one more piece of our freedom away from us. Created by Thomas Alva Edison, the preeminent American exceptionalist, on November 4, 1879, the incandescent light bulb has lit homes and businesses around the world since then.

Edison, the real-life Prometheus, succeeded where others had failed and perfected the light bulb into a longer lasting product. Just as Prometheus stole fire from the gods, Edison gave us clean, bright light.

Now we will start to lose the convenience and low cost of the incandescent light bulb starting in January with the phase-out of  100 watt bulbs and completing with 40 watt bulbs in January 2014.

This is all due to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires all general-purpose light bulbs that produce 310–2600 lumens of light be 30% more energy efficient (similar to current halogen lamps) than then-current incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014.

The safe and reliable incandescent bulb will be replaced by more energy-efficient lighting alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) and LED lamps. There will be a number of exemptions including 3 way lights, appliance lights, plant lights, candelabra lights and other specialty bulbs.

There was an uprising in the House when a bill was put forward by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that called for the repeal a section of the bill and replace itCompact Fluorescent Lamp with the aptly named  Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB Act (H.R. 91). Barton said that he was opposed to government regulation of light bulbs. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) pointed out that many of the new types of bulbs were made in China while all of the incandescent bulbs were manufactured domestically. He also pointed out the more serious issue of mercury problems if CFLs break. The bill did not achieve a two-thirds majority.

The problems with mercury contamination if compact fluorescent lamps are broken is an issue that is starting to get some traction among consumer groups. Mercury is contained in all CFLs in varying quantities. Because mercury is poisonous, even these small amounts are a concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps may be released and contribute to air and water pollution. The EPA has an entire hypertext page for dealing with mercury spills.

The danger of mercury from broken CFLs has been somewhat overblown but it still requires care to clean up and dispose of them. Here’s a video that discusses the cost of compact fluorescent lamps. Here’s one on the disposal of CFLs. Finally, here’s how to clean up a broken bulb.

If you want to get a kick out of this issue here’s a video parody about the incandescent light bulb:

 

 

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