The light bulb is iconic in our society as an illustration of ideas and innovation. At a young age American children learn about Thomas Edison and his invention of light with the creation of the incandescent bulb. It has remained much unchanged since its design was completed in 1879.
Fast forward to the past few years when the “green movement” has people scrutinizing their homes and workplaces in an effort to improve energy efficiency. We now know that traditional light bulbs are inefficient and waste energy when producing uneccessary heat to light an inner filament. But rather than make the initial investment into long term energy efficient sources like CFLs and LEDs, many of us continue to use standard 40, 60 and 100 watt incandescents.
But in case you haven’t heard, new standards required by the Energy Independence and Security Act were signed into law in 2007 that will make it more costly and complex to buy light bulbs. By next January, 100 watt bulbs can use no more than 75 watts of power to produce the same amount of light. There will be new labeling rules to emphasize bulb lumens (light output) rather than wattage (power output). And where 60 watt bulbs now cost around $0.60 each, the price is expected to be around $2-3 in 2012. That gives the U.S. around a year to prepare for these changes – well, everyone except California.
To get a head start on implementing the new requirements, California began phasing out the sale of older, less efficient 100 watt bulbs on January 1, one year earlier than required. Simultaneously, home furnishings giant IKEA announced it was stopping the sale of traditional, incandescent light bulbs. It’s the first major retailer to take this step.
So, are we seeing the beginning of the end of incandescent lighting as we know it? In ten years, do you think we’ll be lighting our homes and businesses with CFLs, LEDs or other sources? And in the meantime, what steps do you think need to be taken to educate consumers on this rapid transition away from the light bulbs we’re all so familiar with?