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Energy Efficient Light Bulbs | Incandescent Light Bulbs no longer manufactured | What are the options?

Updated on October 5, 2012
CFL and Traditional Bulb
CFL and Traditional Bulb
CFL Bulb in 12 volts
CFL Bulb in 12 volts
Drop off recycle center to dispose of CFL bulbs that contain mercury
Drop off recycle center to dispose of CFL bulbs that contain mercury

You may not want to be so quick to change everything over to CFL Light bulbs as even more efficient bulbs are becoming available

With the 2012 New Year another age old product that we have depended on for over 131 years, the incandescent light bulb began to be phased out by a law mandating more energy efficient light bulbs.

Many are assuming this mandate means everyone will need to begin using the little funny looking curly pig tail compact florescent (CFL) light bulbs. The actual mandate is for the nation to just move toward more energy efficient bulbs period.

There is no law saying they have to be the CFL bulbs. LED bulbs are actually even brighter and more energy efficient and will likely become widely available before the 2014 mandate to stop producing 6O watt bulbs even occurs.

Since Thomas Edison made history by inventing the light bulb, we have depended on his incandescent light bulb creation now for over 130 years.

In 2007 President Bush signed into law a phased in mandate to stop manufacturing and importing of the standard incandescent bulb to begin on Jan 1, 2012. The manufacturing of the 100 watt bulb was the first causality.

The next causality will be the 75 watt bulb to occur on January 1, 2013, and then the most popular widely used bulb, the 60 watt will go out of production on January 1, 2014.

There is also a lot of chatter and misinformation on the web about the new mandate and the safety of the CFL bulbs. Like most new things once you understand the facts, things are not always as bad as they may seem.

There are several factors to consider before the standard socket bulbs become limited in supply. Although it appears we don’t need to rush out and buy as inventories have been increased in the anticipation of the new mandates.

The intent of the mandate is to reduce the amount of energy used to power the most widely used standard base screw in bulbs. If does not target all incandescent specialty bulbs.

This is not at all a flawed concept as the new CFL bulbs are estimated to save up to 75% of the energy used to power an incandescent bulb. Nationwide this is a staggering savings in overall energy used, which will undoubtedly help ease some of the strain on the power grid during peak usage time.

The initial costs of the new CFL light bulbs are by far more expensive than the incandescent bulbs. The marketing suggest that a CFL bulb will last up to six times longer than the standard incandescent bulb.

From our personal experience and from what we see others are experiencing, some of these bulbs are not lasting as long as all the hype suggests. Like others, in as little as 2 years we have replaced several CFL bulbs. Prior that the incandescent bulbs we used did seem to actually last longer. Thus, we are not totally sold on the concept of fully seeing a return or recoupment on our initial investment through savings in electricity as being implied.

Like with all new products as the technology improves, so does the quality and price. In fact another even more energy efficient bulb is beginning to emerge on the market. It does not contain mercury, burns cooler than the CFL bulb and should be in time cheaper to produce than the CFL.

This bulb uses a cluster of LEDs to provide the light. LED’s burn brighter uses less energy and do in fact outlast traditional incandescent bulbs many times over. Like in the beginning of the CFL bulbs, the LED bulb right now are very expensive, as much as $24.

This price will likely drop as the production increases, so it is probably not a good time to rush out and switch all to LED bulbs either. They are already available on line at web sites such as if you are afraid of the CFL bulbs and want to give them a try.

The LED lighting technology is not new it is already being applied in the home with under cabinet kitchen counter lighting and other compact lighting applications. In commercial settings LED lights are being widely used in Exit signs and other emergency lighting circuits because they require so much less energy for generator and battery backup systems to cover when the normal electricity is out.

It will take some time before you can just run into the local home center and purchase LED bulbs to replace an incandescent or CFL bulb as the consumer drives what the stores stock. Not many are even aware that the LED bulb exists, except for those already being sold in self-sustaining communities for people who are living off-grid. The LED bulbs are becoming very popular now even above the CFL bulbs because they are so energy efficient and friendly to solar and battery powered off-grid systems, as well as being more environmentally friendly.

Stores will still be able to sell inventory of incandescent bulbs past the dates but when they are gone they are gone. Again it’s not something that everyone needs to rush out and buy up all they can as if some large storm is coming, but there are some things you do need to consider maybe stocking up on specialty bulbs, so that your home and some appliances don’t also become obsolete.

It’s kind of like having data stored on a 3-1/2” drive only to discover the last computer you replaced was the only one left with the disc drive to pull off and read the data.

Not many people realize the new fluorescent energy efficient CFL bulbs will not work in circuits controlled by traditional dimmers or circuits controlled with electric eyes and some timers. It’s on the packaging in the fine print but not something people will generally look for.

New dimmers are becoming available and a LED dimmable light bulb is already available. Expect these items to be also very expensive at the beginning, thus keeping some of the older bulbs around to use with your current dimmers will still be a good idea.

Some of the products in the home utilized the heat from the incandescent bulbs such as the kid’s toy bake ovens and those who strategically place bulbs to prevent frozen water pipes during winter months. For years we used a 75 watt bulb in our insulated pump house during the winter months. It provided just enough added heat to prevent freeze ups even when the thermometer hit 10 and 20 below.

Those with specialty chandlers may face difficulty of finding replacement bulbs later down the road, these bulbs are apparently not part of the mandate, but as people retro fit to newer energy efficient light fixtures. The demand will probably decline meaning they will not be something stores will want to tie up in inventory and space.

One of the chief complaints is that the new CFL bulbs do not produce the same bright but glowing light they enjoy having at bedside or in a special nook to read favorite books. So keeping the warm glow of an incandescent bulb may still be your preference.

It does make sense to take inventory around the home and other buildings to see what bulbs might be a good idea to stock up.

On the flip side the new energy efficient CFL bulbs offer some really great benefits. The newer ones are far superior over the original ones that you may have tried just a few years ago. They are instant on and no longer have the delayed start as the earlier models. Some of the flood lamps for recessed can ceiling lights that we have recently purchase still do take a few seconds to warm up to full brightness, but they provide good task lighting in the kitchen after they have been on for a few minutes.

The new bulbs do use less energy which is what this is all about. Personally we like the idea that they burn cooler than the incandescent lights and we don’t have to worry about using them in light fixtures and lamps, whereas before we have taken and replaced fixtures with brittle burnt wires caused by years of using incandescent bulbs. We are looking forward to the further development and availability of the LED bulbs for the same reason.

Recently one of the cheaper imported CFL bulbs was supposedly spread across the Internet linking it to several house fires. This link at Snopes .Com dispels the emails chain as a more of a rumor.

The Snopes article is a good read as it explains that the safety features in the new CFL bulbs may create a loud pop, blacken bases and even smoke as the bulb goes out. These are built in safety features, but just the type of things that builds hysteria on the Internet

Other cheap imported products such as extension cords and electrical multiple plug adapters have also been shown to cause home fires. With all electric products they should contain a UL label. Consumers should only purchase brand names they have known and trusted for years.

There are also rumors out on the Internet that the heat generated from the new CFL bulbs will cause them to over heat and should not be used in an enclosed fixture. As mentioned above we like them because they burn so much cooler. We converted our home over three years ago and have had no problems even in some of the small globe fixtures in our bathrooms and closets. You will also find no manufacture warnings on the package, to not use them in an enclosed fixture.

Proper storage and disposal is also an issue for CFL bulbs because they do contain mercury. Because we have had to replace several, we were glad to see that stores such as Lowe’s home improvement have added drop off recycle centers for the CFL bulbs as well as batteries and other battery powered devices that have died.

If you want do want to get into real energy efficient and move toward solar or off-grid low voltage systems, like mentioned above the new CFL and LED bulbs are also available in either 110 volt or 12 volt models. You can find the 12 volt models on line and in camper and RV stores. Their low power consumption allow less drain on the batteries over conventional 12 volt incandescent bulbs as well as using an inverter to power traditional 110 Volt lighting.

Cottage Craft Works does carry a table top lamp and a wall mounted lamps made by the Amish that use either 12 volt CFL or LED light bulbs. These make a perfect backup or emergency lighting system during storms or black outs, as well as for remote cabins or off-grid living.

People should take caution in not storing the 110 volt and 12 volt CFL bulbs in the same place. They look the same, use the same socket size and could easily be picked up by a family member and mistakenly place a 12 volt bulb in a 110 volt socket.

Cottage Craft Works at is a back-to-basics sufficient living general store for non-electric off-grid products.


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