Thomas Edison must be smiling in his grave. The incandescent light bulb ban, which is fully phased-in as of Jan. 1, 2014, has led to a surge of innovation and new lighting products. While money was certainly a motivator for Edison, he was an inventor at heart. He was the creator of the concept of an “industrial laboratory,” and the Wizard of Menlo Park would be more than gratified to see just how far his great- great- great-grandchildren have taken his ground-breaking ideas.

incandescent light bulb

Incandescent light bulb ban

It will be illegal to manufacture or import 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs in the U.S.  as of Jan. 1, 2014 because of 2007 federally mandated efficiency standards.

General service 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs were eliminated in the first phases of the ban, but the 2014 ban on 60- and 40-watt bulbs will be a much bigger deal as those are the types of bulbs consumers use most frequently in their homes.

Exempt bulbs

Quite a few different types of specialized incandescent light bulbs, however, are not impacted by the ban. Nearly all types of specialty incandescent bulbs, including three-way bulbs, 150-watt bulbs, faux candle bulbs and bulbs with narrower candelabra bases, are exempted from the federal ban.

Lighting innovation

According to Noah Horowitz, director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Center for Energy Efficiency, the standards in the 2007 law mandating increased energy efficiency “have led to more lighting innovation over the past five years than we saw during the 100-plus years since Edison invented the light bulb.”

Experts say that you still have three light bulb choices: compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED bulbs and halogen bulbs.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs last at least five years, use minimal energy and are relatively inexpensive. But some people do not like the quality of the light from CFLs and CFLs require a very small amount of mercury.

LED bulbs create light using light-emitting diodes. They are the most expensive type of bulb, but they can last for decades and use the least amount of energy per light unit produced.

Halogen bulbs don’t save nearly as much electricity or last as long as the others, but they’re significantly more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and are probably the best choice for those who prefer incandescent light.

Long-term savings

All the new bulbs are at least marginally more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, but the new bulbs use about 85 percent and 75 percent, respectively, less energy than older bulbs. LED bulbs can last more than 20 years, and CFL bulbs can last around eight or nine years.