Federal law and the incandescent light bulb (and what it will mean to you on January 1, 2012)

In December of 2007, congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 This act attempts to reduce America's energy consumption by encouraging the use of more efficient technologies.  As part of this effort:

These bans only effect the standard A19 bulb (pictured at the right), not the various decorative bulbs, nor bulbs that utilize different technology such as fluorescent, halogen, etc.

What you can do:   I recommend complying with the spirit of the act and using CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) which are available in a variety of colors and sizes.  If you have a fixture that isn't bright enough, you can take this opportunity to brighten it up a bit.  CFL bulbs are labeled with two power (wattage) ratings.  The actual power consumed and the power of the incandescent lamp they are designed to replace.  A typical example are 13W/60W;  this means this bulb consumes 13 Watts of power, and intended to replace a 60 Watt incandescent bulb.  In other words, you are paying for 13 Watts of electricity, but getting the equivalent light of a 60 Watt incandescent bulb.  We have all seen light fixtures labeled with the maximum wattage.  This is a safety requirement of the fixture, and you exceed this maximum at your own peril!  However, when using CFL bulbs, you may use the smaller wattage.  This means you can use a 23W/100W CFL bulb in a fixture that is marked for a maximum of 60 Watts.  CFL bulbs tend to be oddly shaped, and are generally larger than the incandescent bulbs they replace, so practically, you may have trouble fitting the larger sizes of CFL bulbs into some fixtures.

Color:  Bulbs colors are rated using a Kelvin system (abbreviated "K").  Kelvin is a temperature system used by engineers, similar to Fahrenheit, and Celsius.  When any object is heated up to a sufficiently high temperature, it will emit light of a color depending on its temperature.  The hotter it is, the more blue will be it's color; cooler (less hot) temperatures will yield a redder color.  With incandescent lighting, the filament is actually this hot, typically 2700K.  Fluorescent bulbs operate at much cooler temperatures, but simulate a similar range of colors, typically 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, 4100K, and sometimes 5000K and 6000K.  These are progressively more blue and more "daylight like" as they increase, with the higher Kelvin values being characterized as "full spectrum".  A good substitute for incandescent light is 2700K or 3000K, and for a long time I preferred these colors in my own home.  However, I recently was in the home of a photographer friend of mine, and I noticed he used bluer lights.  He told me preferred the daylight feel of the full spectrum lighting, and his argument brought me around.  I now view the CFL light as an opportunity to break out of the old way of lighting and try something new. 

Hoarding: Of course, you can take this approach.  If you do, I recommend you do it soon.

SAFETY FIRE RISK NOTE:  CFL bulbs should NEVER be installed on a circuit that is controlled by a dimmer.  You should continue to use incandescent bulbs, or replace the dimmer with a switch.  Dimmers cause standard CFL bulbs to overheat, and sometimes catch fire.  There are CFL bulbs made to work on dimmer circuits, but they are expensive, difficult to find, and rarely used.

Links:  If you want to read more about this subject, look at this link: Australia has recently put in place a much more restrictive ban on incandescent lighting and this Australian has a lot to say about it.

Here is a more general link from USNews

On the light side, here is a Cobert Report video about South Carolina's attempt to permit manufacture of banned bulbs in their state. If at First You Don't Secede

Trivia fact:  the number imbedded in a bulb size indicates its diameter in eights of an inch, thus the A19 bulb pictured above is 19/8" or 2 3/8" in diameter.  A T8 fluorescent tube is 8/8" or 1".  A T12 bulb is 12/8" or 1 1/2", and a PAR38 reflector bulb is 38/8" or 4 3/4" in diameter.

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