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Many consumers in the dark about Jan.1 start of light bulb phase out

Most plan to switch to compact fluorescent lamps, some plan to stockpile incandescent 60- and 40-watt bulbs

December 24, 2013 11:45 AM ET

Computerworld - Only four in 10 consumers are aware that the most popular light bulbs in the U.S. will be phased out next year as production of the products ends on Jan. 1, 2014.

The popular 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs join their energy-wasting cohorts, the 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs, which were phased out this year.

According to Lighting giant Osram Sylvania, which released its sixth annual Sylvania Socket Survey, many consumers are still in the dark about the bulb phase-out.

Lighting choices
When suppliers run out of stock, consumers and businesses will have to replace traditional bulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives. They will have three choices: halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Of those who are aware of the regulatory move, more than half (59%) are excited about it, as it will help Americans use more energy efficient light bulbs.

U.S. consumers tend to agree on what is important when making their lighting choices, according to the survey. Respondents say that brightness (92%), followed by lifespan (87%), energy usage (82%) and price (82%) are the most important criteria when choosing which bulb to buy.

Unlike other nations, the U.S. is not technically banning incandescent bulbs.

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 is an energy efficiency standard that requires all screw-in light bulbs (also known as lamps) to use 25% less power, beginning with 100-watt bulbs this year. The standard requires bulbs to use 65% less energy by 2020.

If a manufacturer could produce an Edison incandescent bulb that used 25% less power today, the maker could sell it. Since manufacturers can't make such a bulb, the EISA essentially becomes a ban on inefficient lamps.

In contrast, China already banned incandescent lamps that use 100 watts or more of power and that will expand to cover any light bulbs that use more than 60 watts in 2014 and to 15 watts in 2016.

In the U.S., EISA standard requirement for 100-watt bulbs began in 2012. The ban on 75-watt bulbs went into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The phase out of 60-watt and 40-watt lamps will have the greatest impact on consumers, because those products are the most popular, according to Philip Smallwood, senior lighting analyst at IMS Research.

When suppliers run out of stock, consumers and businesses will have to replace traditional bulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives. They will have three choices: halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Forty-six percent of survey respondents indicated they plan to switch to CFLs, 24% will opt for LEDs, and 13% said that they will choose halogens.

According to IHS Research, a $25 LED bulb pays for itself in about 34 months, assuming the lamps are used four hours a day at an energy cost of 11 cents per kilowatt hour.



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