The time has come to say goodbye to (most) incandescent light bulbs.
A Biden administration's ban on the manufacturing and sale of the common bulbs went into effect on Aug. 1. The rule was originally established in 2007 but later rolled back by the Trump administration. Then in April of last year, the Department of Energy flipped the switch, implementing new efficiency standards to phase out the older, high-energy bulbs.
The rule effectively prohibits the manufacture and sale of most incandescent bubs, which were used in about 30% of U.S. homes in 2020. New requirements mean most bulbs sold in the U.S. must be energy-efficient LED bulbs.
While more expensive, LED — or light emitting diode — bulbs last roughly 25-50 times longer and use less energy. Traditional incandescent bulbs provide just 15 lumens per watt, while most LED bulbs can produce about 75 lumens per watt, or more.
To tell the difference, Incandescent light bulbs typically contain a stem or glass mount attached to a base and have a more traditional bulb shape. They produce light by heating a wire filament that then generates light and heat, often making the bulb warm to the touch.
In contrast, LED lights do not have filaments. They are semiconductor devices that emit light when a current flows through a tiny microchip. LED bulbs are also typically smaller and have a more modern appearance than traditional incandescent bulbs.
The Department of Energy estimates this new rule will save American families about $100 annually on utility bills. It's also projected to slash carbon emissions by more than 222 million metric tons — an amount equivalent to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year.
"By raising energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, we’re putting $3 billion back in the pockets of American consumers every year and substantially reducing domestic carbon emissions," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "The lighting industry is already embracing more energy efficient products, and this measure will accelerate progress to deliver the best products to American consumers and build a better and brighter future."
While the government can't stop consumers from using whatever incandescent bulbs they have left, you'll no longer be able to find many on store shelves. However, some are exempt from the new requirements, including appliance lamps, colored lamps, flood lights, and those used in traffic signals.
Some other specialty lights, including left-handed thread lamps and odd-sized bulbs will also remain available.
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