Regressive Bill Would Drop Ban on Incandescent Lightbulbs

by , 09/21/10
filed under: Design, Green Lighting, News, Policy

incandescent lightbulb, congress, sustainable design, green design, policy, joe barton, congress, politics

Hot on the heels of his infamous apology to BP earlier this summer during the congressional hearings into the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) has just offered a new environmental bombshell bill in the House. The Better Use of Light Bulb Act (HR 6144) would repeal parts of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) — the act that currently stands to phase out the use of most inefficient incandescent light bulbs in the United States by 2014.

incandescent lightbulb, congress, sustainable design, green design, policy, joe barton, congress, politics

Even groups like the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have spoken out in opposition to this new bill, noting that, “The reality is that consumer preference already has been shifting away from incandescent products, with the market for standard household incandescent bulbs declining by 50 percent over the last five or so years. With lighting consuming approximately 22 percent of all electricity in the U.S., the potential for energy savings and energy conservation that the country — and the world — can realize with this change to higher-technology light sources is immense.”

EISA 2007 provisions do not mandate the use of only compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), nor do they “ban” incandescent products. LED lights, advanced incandescents, such as halogen bulbs, and other options are all available choices. But it’s time to get rid of incandescents. As architect Michael Klement recently observed, “Real name for incandescent light bulb? Mini heaters with a trace light byproduct.”

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  1. DennyHayes March 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Well, there are a few ways to look at a ban. First of all, how can they enforce such a ban, without a search warrant to every home. It might be viable for businesses, but I am CEO of a retrofit lighting company with 14 branches around the US, and from our experience very few businesses still use incandescent lighting, except for decorative situations. To ban those uses would really be silly, since they are few and far between. The only heavy use of incandescents we have seen are Xmas lighting, and do they really plan on driving around giving tickets to people who more often have no idea what kind of lights they are hanging. A more viable approach would be to ban the sale. If people can’t get replacements they will use something else or sit in the dark, saving even more energy :) Another approach would to put a heavy tax on their use, since most government agencies around the US are short on money anyway. What we really need here is a ban on ignorance and corruption.

  2. gyrogearloose February 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

    @Cormac, I agree. I withdraw the last sentence of my earlier post.

  3. Kailani February 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I think these total bans are short-sighted. I’m in favor of LEDs, solar powered outdoor lights, and other energy-saving bulbs, and incorporate them whenever I can. I turn off lights as I walk room-to-room and am otherwise conservation minded. Heck, I even had a 33-panel photovoltaic system installed last year. So, can you possibly forgive me for preferring and using incandescent bulbs for my one crystal chandelier? The alternatives so far are ugly. Make an aesthetically pleasing one and I’ll switch.

  4. Cormac January 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    “Until these things really work as advertised, they shouldn’t be rammed down our throats.”

    No…they shouldn’t be rammed down our throats AT ALL!
    The idea that we need these people to legislate every miniscule aspect of our lives is rediculous!

    @TheCheckz: Absolutely right! If the market is shifting away from incandescent lights, there is no need for legislation. Let the D.C. crooks’n’liars club find something else to do…I don’t think there’s a National Hamster Appreciation Day. They should get on that and spend a good, long time debating it.
    Leaves less time in the session for them to interfere.

  5. Trishah January 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Would not using incandescent bulbs save the US money? Yes. But at what cost?

    What is little discussed or known is that there are numerous health issues associated with the use of CFL. And for individuals who are sensitive to the light and/or the electromagnatism of CFLs, which is estimated to be 20% (on the low side) of the population, and who already have difficulty living in the predominately fluorescent world, HR 6 is disasterous.

    I for one have Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome and when I did work in a research project (6 years) had to build a roof on my cubical and keep my eyes closed most of the time in meetings just to have a job. The fluorescent lights give me horrible headaches and eye pain. So much so that I now work from home where I am not subjected to it.

    But when the provision to eliminate incandescent bulbs takes full effect, I will be breaking the law in my own home just so that I can live without pain!!

    I should have a choice! It’s a matter of my health and well being.

    There are three petitions you can sign. Two to support the repeal of the HR 6 provisions and one to ban fluorescent lighting. You can find links to them at:

    Join the movement to support HR 91!!

  6. gyrogearloose January 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I dutifully replaced a dozen floods in our kitchen with compact fluorescents from Philips. Because these lights are on a dimmer, I bought dimmable fluorescents.

    These bulbs have been nothing but trouble. Not only do they have the usual problem with CFLs of needing a long time to warm up, but their failure rate has been totally unacceptable. In several bulbs, the outer glass separated and in one case crashed to the floor. And a number of others have just plan failed after less than a year of operation.

    Until these things really work as advertised, they shouldn’t be rammed down our throats.

  7. artz November 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    What happens to all those mercury containing CFLs when they reach the end of their service life? How many people will actually take them to an appropriate disposal site? What will we do when run-off from land-fills contaminate the ground water with mercury?

  8. ve3tru November 12, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    The region in china where they make the CFL millions live and is so polluted with mercury. The workers have hundreds of times of mercury in their bodies and work for slave wages.
    What is the cost to your health, known health issues with using CFLs or when they break. What does it cost to ship them from china, as we don\\\’t want to make them here because of the above.
    What\\\’s the cost of loosing good paying jobs and abandoning new technologies like the energy efficient incandescent bulb under development.To date we have no efficient way of disposing them.
    They are also much harder to make offsetting your energy savings.
    With every new and green technology its made by polluting the environment using slave labor very sad.

  9. TheCheckz November 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    \”The reality is that consumer preference already has been shifting away from incandescent products, with the market for standard household incandescent bulbs declining by 50 percent over the last five or so years.\”

    Awesome! No need for a ban then, is there?

    America is supposed to be the land of the free. I should be free to choose whatever lighting that I choose to.

  10. oldbulbs4me November 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I love the person who wrote that we have to give up a little. For me, using CFL, LED and halogen flood lights gives me migraines. So, I would be giving up a lot. If we would all stop looking at things from one point of view and try to see that there are people with health problems such as lupus, epilepsy, and migraine, who will be giving a whole heck of a lot if they can’t use incandescent light bulbs. Yes, I would love to be on that self-righteous high horse, thinking solely about our environment. But I can’t. I just think that a little respect for those of us fighting for our health, for the right to use an incandescent light bulb isn’t too much to ask.

  11. Some Guy October 14, 2010 at 1:53 am

    If you like CFLs, then use them. What you have no right to do is put a gun to anyone else’s head to force them to make the same choice.

  12. Wobble September 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    No police are necessary… incandescent lamps burn out so fast that the majority will just tail off into history.

    There are provisions in the law for exemptions of certain types of incandescent bulbs which cannot be readily replaced by other technologies. An example would be an oven lamp, and decorative “flame” types of lamps for chandeliers. I’m pretty sure it wont be hard to find one if you need it.

    There are now LED lamps which produce the same (or better) photometry as incandescents but use 1/10th of the energy and last 50 times as long.

    I see a lot of incandescents in places where they are seldom actually turned on, and those will be around for years. It’s not a crime to use them, but unless you want a lot more power plants (and the CO2, SOX, and mercury that comes with them) it’s time to wise up.

    Joe Barton is a tool of big oil and big coal. Guys like him pretend to have principles but it’s really about all about money. The largest single issue in our country is campaign financing — and Joe Barton is the poster child for reform.

  13. inthedark September 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Are we going to have light bulb police cruising the neighborhoods checking on what bulb we\’re using?
    Just wondering.

  14. arttimes September 25, 2010 at 11:56 am

    But what about people who have Lupus? They won’t have any choice except to use oil lamps since the CFL’s are harmful to them. My sister has Lupus and the effects of these bulbs could in fact kill her.

    The CFL’s don’t put out as much light and won’t work in the cold. So what are we supposed to do? Work just from dawn to dusk outside in warm weather like out forefathers did? I think it is fine for people to make their own choice as to which kind of light bulbs they use in their homes. The CFL’s might be okay in some places in the home but not in every one. What are you going to use in your refrigerator? and oven? They won’t work in the refrigerator and do you really want to take the chance of having one break in your oven? Do you really think people will take them to a recycling center? I live in a very rural area and am not willing to drive over an hour to take a broken bulb somewhere.

  15. Susan K. September 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Calciphus didn’t get his facts straight. Congress did not ban a technology. They legislated a specific level of efficiency and the traditional incandescent light bulbs don’t meet it. Other more efficient incandescent bulbs (such as halogen) meet that efficiency level.

  16. Andrew Michler September 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Looking at all the comments in support of this bill I sigh. Please drive to you local coal plant and sit there for a spell, count the trains that come in.
    The only magic bullet in the near future is efficiency and the most obvious victim is the 5% (.8% including electricity production and transmission) efficiency incandescent. Sorry that we all have to give up a little to gain, but take a hard look at what you really believe and then make a decision. We need to stop always acting like consumers and start being citizens that can adapt to a changing reality.

  17. calciphus September 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    The bill was extremely short-sighted to begin with. Rather than state bulbs must meet some certain lumen/watt efficiency, or use X% of toxic chemicals or less in production, they banned a technology, one that can, in fact, produce very attractive, efficient bulbs.

    And instead they gave an entire industry over to CFLs, many of which have terrible life expectancies, poor color quality, and are not significantly more efficient than their incandescent predecessors.

    You can\’t legislate through banning technology – you have to do it with actual efficiency goals and then hold your manufacturers to actually perform to those specs.

    It would be like banning diesel in cars (a cleaner, more efficient fuel), rather than simply stating that emissions from any car (regardless of technology) must be within certain limits, and must get X many miles per gallon.

    Oh wait…

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