Like a weed that keeps reappearing in your garden, the myth that the Federal Government has BANNED the incandescent light bulb continues to crop up and cause angst among consumers. And what’s worse, pundits and elected officials who should know better are doing their best to help it spread. It is particularly distressing to hear free-market conservatives spin this issue as another example of government intrusion into our lives and homes.
As NEMA, its member companies, and energy conservation advocates have pointed out repeatedly, the Energy Independence and Security Act that President Bush signed in 2007 does NOT ban incandescent lamps. Instead, it rightfully and progressively sets efficiency standards that manufacturers must meet by specified dates. It’s true that existing models of incandescent bulbs fail to meet those standards and thus will be phased out of the market beginning in 2012. But there is nothing to prevent producers from marketing more efficient incandescents, or bulbs with similar technologies that meet the standards and retain many of the same benefits we’ve enjoyed from the old style bulbs.
In fact, the law provides strong incentives for companies to do just that and the fruits of their efforts are already appearing on the market. Halogen lamps, for example, are essentially a high efficiency replacement for the general duty 60-watt and 100-watt incandescents. Unlike compact fluorescents – which, despite what you may hear, DO NOT create an urgent health hazard within the home – halogens contain no mercury. They screw in easily, are dimmable, light up immediately, and last a long time. You can buy them now at your local "big-box" home store. What’s not to like?
Enough already. Anyone is free to horde incandescents and continue to use them as long as they like. But the Federal Government is not “strong-arming” American consumers over light bulbs in the manner that Dana Perino, Stuart Varney, Congressman Fred Upton, and too many others would have you believe. People wanting more information should contact NEMA, the American Lighting Association, or the Alliance to Save Energy.