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Lights out coming Jan. 1 for some types of incandescent bulbs

by Paul Monies Modified: December 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: December 18, 2013

Come Jan. 1, it'll be lights out for a few common types of household light bulb.

But don't expect a big run on 40- and 60-watt incandescent lightbulbs at your neighborhood hardware store. Most report they've got plenty in stock to last well into 2014.

The changes are the final phase in what's been a three-year effort to make lightbulbs more energy efficient. A 2007 law mandated that manufacturers could no longer make or import lightbulbs that didn't meet certain energy-efficient standards.

Lowe's stores are reminding consumers of the changes with explanations in their lighting aisles. A pallet of 16-pack, 60-watt incandescent bulbs was in a prime spot near the entrance of a Lowe's store in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

At Home Depot, customers will still be able to find standard 40- and 60-watt incandescent lightbulbs for the first half of the year until they sell out, said Bob Penn, regional merchandising manager.

Still, there's a lot of consumer confusion over lighting choices, said Brandon Boozer, owner of six Batteries Plus Bulbs stores in Oklahoma City and Lawton.

In terms of pricing, the cheapest are still incandescent bulbs, even though they are the least efficient and need to be replaced most often. Halogens and compact fluorescent lights are next, with LEDs the most expensive, but longest lasting and most energy efficient.

“Because lighting is such a personal taste and we've gotten used to that soft white light, it's very tough sometimes for customers to make that transition,” Boozer said. “It's a scary thing, because people don't understand them.”

Among the exceptions to the law are three-way incandescent bulbs, rough service bulbs, black lights and bug bulbs. Many specialty bulbs such as those for refrigerators or other appliances also are exempt from the new energy efficiency regulations.

Halogen bulbs offer a good price point between cheap incandescents and pricier CFLs, Boozer said. But halogens aren't as efficient as CFLs or LEDs.

Boozer said many consumers weren't impressed with compact fluorescent lightbulbs when they first appeared on the market. Some didn't like the curly shape, while others were concerned about the small quantity of mercury in the bulbs, which makes disposal more difficult. Newer CFLs are available with covers so the curly parts aren't visible.

In the Oklahoma City area, consumers can recycle unbroken CFL bulbs at Lowe's, Home Depot and Westlake Ace Hardware stores, officials said. Oklahoma City residents can also drop off expired CFL and fluorescent bulbs at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at SW 15 and Portland.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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Online

Light bulb changes

For more information on the 2007 federal law that mandated more energy efficient lightbulbs, go to these websites:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/frequently-asked-questions-lighting-choices-save-you-money

http://lightbulboptions.org

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0164-shopping-lightbulbs

Bulb disposal

For information on properly disposing of broken CFL bulbs:

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl

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