The Light Bulb Ban: What’s Happening Seven Years Later?

February 21, 2014

light bulbs


In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) got people ready to say goodbye to incandescent light bulbs. In an attempt to curb energy usage, the government introduced a ban on the most popular light bulbs ranging from 40 to 100 watts.

Seven years later, the effect of the ban has become as widespread, as originally envisioned. As of January 1, 2014, the 40W and 60W bulbs have joined the 75 and the 100W incandescent light bulbs in their discontinued status.

So far, several classes of light bulbs have been excluded:

  • 3-way bulbs
  • Party Lights
  • Appliance light bulb
  • Christmas light bulbs

So, if you love the look of retro Christmas bulbs, they are definitely available (and continue to be a strong choice for consumers who love a traditional look).

Now that the incandescent light bulb ban has reached its full effect, what is it that consumers could expect in 2014 and the years to come? Here are our predictions and the expected consequences:

Stockpiling Bulbs – Less than expected
The 60W and 40W bulbs will be available in stores until the supplies run out. National Geographic quoted an Osram survey, according to which most consumers will refrain from buying significant supplies of the old bulbs. (Only 30% of those surveyed planned to stockpile.) Customers are opting to go to the newer technology bulbs.  Time will tell if they stay satisfied with these choices based on price, look and hazardous components in some of the next-generation bulbs.

New Lighting Design Trends
As CFL, LED and eco-incandescent bulbs become more and more common, we hope the technology behind the production of such bulbs will improve, as well. Entirely new trends in home lighting are starting to emerge.  (Just head to your nearest IKEA store to see that!)

To look on the bright side, consumers are getting the chance to buy modern fixtures, minimalist designs and even sculptural fixtures that are both a source of light and a work of art.

Learning about Lumens
One of the most confusing aspects of the transition will probably have to do with the switch from watts to lumens. Learning to read lumen information is still confusing for some buyers but it will become the standard. Watts provide a measure of the electricity used while lumens are a measure of the visible light that a bulb emits. A traditional 60W bulb and a 15W LED bulb could produce the same number of lumens but the LED bulb will be nearly 75 percent more energy efficient.

Decrease in the Price of LED Lights
Currently, LED household lights are quite expensive but experts predict a significant decrease in their price during 2014. As these bulbs become the norm, we anticipate they will get to be much more affordable.

What about Christmas?

LED technology continues to be an advantage for Christmas
Though not directly impacted by the incandescent light ban, LED strings and bulbs allow you to run 10-20 times more light strings in series than traditional bulbs with up to a 90% savings of electricity.  For cities, massive projects and folks with small residential electric services, low-current lights make quantities of Holiday lighting possible that would have been unheard of 10 years ago.

[Reminds me of my story about the city that needed to light a 30-foot tree planted on an island in the middle of a lake with access to only 1 15-amp breaker.  <smile>]

So, as of now, you don’t have to worry about incandescent Christmas lights but in the home lighting arena, the phasing out of the manufacture of traditional bulbs will require consumers to change their mindset and their tastes when it comes to lighting the rooms and corners of their homes.

We’ll continue to keep our eyes on the news to see what lawmakers will think of next.

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