Lights out: Phase-out of incandescent bulbs begins

eleland@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 1, 2014 

The light is going out on the incandescent bulb.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the federal government’s phase-out of traditional, energy-hogging 40- and 60-watt glass bulbs. As of Jan. 1, it is illegal to manufacture them in the United States or import them.

But you can still buy incandescent bulbs while store inventories last.

So some customers are stocking up, said Todd Ciavardini, assistant manager at the Lowe’s on Iverson Way in Charlotte, N.C. “We will be selling them until our distribution centers run out,” Ciavardini said. “Once they’re gone that’s it.”

He said some consumers don’t like the more energy-efficient bulbs because they cost more, including the LED (light-emitting diode), CFL (compact fluorescent) and halogen incandescent bulbs. But experts say the newer bulbs will save consumers over time because they use so much less energy than the 134-year-old incandescent bulb first marketed by Thomas Edison.

Of the three new styles, the CFLs are typically the least expensive. But Ciavardini said customers complain that the light they give off is “industrial or too yellow.” Because they contain small amounts of mercury, retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot will recycle used CFLs.

The change in lighting was mandated by a law President George Bush signed in 2007, designed to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past two years, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs were phased out -- Lowes no longer has any to sell, Ciavardini said.

Only special types of incandescent bulbs -- such as 3-way bulbs -- can still be marketed.

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