published Friday, January 4th, 2013

LIGHTS OUT: Production of 75-watt incandescent light bulbs stopped Jan. 1

Poll
Are you stockpiling light bulbs?

The warm glow of the 75-watt incandescent light bulb soon will wink out.

Though the bulbs still are available in stores, producers stopped manufacturing them Jan. 1. The industry is phasing out incandescent bulbs to meet federal energy standards by 2014.

The 75-watt bulb is the second casualty of 2007's Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires household lighting to be 27 percent more efficient by next year.

Light bulb producers stopped making 100-watt bulbs a year ago, and 60- and 40-watt bulbs will be discontinued in 2014.

Dousing incandescents will save energy, said John Watts, supervisor in the energy services department at EPB.

"There's a limit to the power the United States can produce," Watts said. "You've got to reduce somewhere or build more power plants to maintain the energy load everyone's demanding."

Consumers still have plenty of lighting options, with halogen, compact fluorescent and light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs. Each has benefits and drawbacks.

Halogen bulbs are the most similar to the old bulbs, producing the same amount of heat, though at a lower wattage.

Compact fluorescents take time to warm up and turn on, and they dim noticeably as they grow older. Manufacturers, including General Electric, are producing "instant-on" fluorescent bulbs that have shorter warm-up times.

Watts said some consumers may be leery of compact fluorescents because they contain a small amount of mercury, about the size of a pinpoint. Consumers are encouraged to recycle them to prevent the release of mercury into the environment.

LED bulbs are gaining in popularity. They cost more initially -- $20 to $30 -- but can last for 20 years when used about three hours per day.

Watt said newer bulbs could save consumers money, but their biggest effect will not be on individual households.

"It's not going to be something where you're going to put these bulbs in and notice a difference," Watts said. "But on the big scope of things around the country, it will be noticeable."

The 75-watt bulb will be available in stores until the current stock runs out. They are still in stock at Batteries Plus in Hixson, but an employee didn't know how long they will last.

"There have been a lot of people complaining" about the enforced switch, said Johnny Grills, a sales associate at Batteries Plus. "We haven't had too many mass grabs, though."

Every month or so, Grills said, a customer will buy four or five boxes of the old bulbs, but most businesses and individuals are turning to the energy-efficient offerings.

But that doesn't mean the store won't see a run on its remaining stock of old bulbs as 2014 draws closer.

"It's possible," he said. "You might have a few people that will go crazy and grab as much as they can."

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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