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The Incandescent Lighting Ban


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The Incandescent Lighting Ban
The Incandescent Lighting Ban

Halogen "incandescent" bulbs are a simple combination of existing technology.

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The Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140, H.R. 6) signed into law on December 18, 2007 mandates a ban on importing or manufacturing any incandescent lamps defined as "General Service" after December 31, 2011 that do not meet phased, increasing energy efficiency hurdles as defined in the law. I cover this in detail in the tutorial 2007 Energy Bill - Are They Phasing Out or Making Incandescent Bulbs Illegal?

The ban began January 1, 2012 (for standard 100 watt incandescent bulbs) and is scheduled to be complete January 2014 (for banning standard 40 watt incandescent bulbs). The existing inventory of non-compliant incandescent bulbs already in the United States is being allowed to be sold until depleted which is why you can still find 100 watt bulbs in some stores.

The 2007 law has come under criticism since its signing as a gross over-reach of government intrusion into free markets and personal consumer choice. The law hit its first Congressional delay Friday December 16, 2012 when Congress voted to eliminate the funds the Department of Energy would need to enforce the ban of non-compliant bulbs. This lack of enforcement funding runs from January 2012 until the reprieve ends on Sept. 30, 2012 at the end of the government's fiscal year. However, short of an all out repeal, this vote to delay enforcement funding is confusing at best since the law remains intact.

What is interesting is that the government apparently knew this law would require a lot of public "education" and that's why it allocated $40,000,000 to convince you that it is a good idea. Section 331 (c) MARKET ASSESSMENTS AND CONSUMER AWARENESS PROGRAM - subsection (2) authorizes $40,000,000 ($10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012) to industry trade groups and "other interested parties, to carry out a proactive national program of consumer awareness, information, and education that broadly uses the media and other effective communication techniques over an extended period of time." This all makes me wonder about the pro-CFL blogs, pro-industry spokespersons and their press releases and much of the "positive press" we are bombarded with all quoting the same talking points about the alleged benefits of CFL's .

Many organizations and media who support this law are on a full-court press trying to counter critics by saying there is no ban on incandescent light bulbs. This is both untrue and disingenuous. The intent of the law was to promote use of lower energy consuming Compact Fluorescent Lighting usage irregardless of their known mercury hazards and it took a ban on standard incandescent bulbs to effect that goal. The law requires both more efficient lighting AND it bans the manufacture or importing of standard incandescent bulbs that do not meet the tiered energy standards of the 2007 Act. So there is a ban on more and more standard incandescent bulbs every year.

But what of these so-called "new" incandescent bulbs?

Activists like to tout the success of the law by pointing what they claim is private sector new technology innovation found in an “eco-friendly” halogen-incandescent light bulb (see above photo). However, these halogen-incandescent bulbs, promoted as cutting edge technology, are really nothing more than repackaged existing halogen bulbs. Although halogen technology is related to standard incandescent technology, it is quite different than a simple incandescent bulb. Also, the halogen bulb did not get fundamentally more efficient with this law, so nothing advanced. We now just have a halogen bulb placed in a standard incandescent light bulb shell.

Also, halogen bulbs burn extremely hot, so for all the protesting by pro-CFL activists about the waste heat thrown off by an incandescent bulb, apparently even more waste heat coming from a halogen bulb is OK and is now “eco-friendly.”

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