It’s Not True! Incandescent Light Bulbs Aren’t Banned

Fed up with CFLs? Hoarding incandescent bulbs? Relax. Incandescents aren’t going away entirely; they’re just getting more efficient.

With all the rumors flying around about federal regulations for light bulbs, it’s no wonder so many of us are dazed and confused.

In fact, many of you have left comments on HouseLogic saying you’re thinking of hoarding incandescent bulbs while they’re still in stores, either because you prefer the quality of light they provide or because you’re just plain burned out on CFLs.

We want to shed some light on something: Incandescent technology isn’t going away. Traditional incandescents — Edison’s classic — are phasing out, but energy-efficient halogen incandescents that give off the same amount of light with less energy will be available, say experts like Russ Leslie, associate director of the Lighting Research Center in Troy, N.Y., who has tested bulbs for Energy Star.

I found a dimmable, looks-like-a-regular-bulb GE halogen incandescent in a Google search. Prices for this model start around $7. Some specs on halogen incandescents:

  • Come on right away
  • Dimmable
  • Last longer than their predecessor
  • Use about 30% less energy
  • Look similar to the Edison classic in some cases

Why is the law so confusing?

The original federal legislation, signed in 2007, set energy standards requiring manufacturers to make bulbs, beginning in 2012, that use 25% less energy than earlier generations. A bill passed at the end of 2011 defunded that legislation. The defunding didn’t reverse the law; it just took away the money earmarked to enforce it.

But most manufacturers had already retooled their production lines to accommodate the efficiency standards, so they pressed ahead with the new energy standards, churning out CFLs and LEDs.

Bottom line: Halogen incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs meet the new standards. So if you hate CFLs, you have options. Plus prices, including those for LEDs, will start to come down, says Leslie.

More: Light bulb options (PDF)

Which traditional incandescents are going away and when?

  • 100-watt: 2012
  • 75-watt: 2012
  • 40- and 60-watt: 2014

What bulbs will you try? Or are you still on a mission to hoard incandescents?