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Incandescent Light Bulbs Begin Phase Out On Jan. 1

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The new year may be a confusing time when you’re buying light bulbs. New national light bulb rules take effect Jan. 1, 2012, when new standards require light bulbs to be 25 percent more efficient.

The idea is that Thomas Edison’s invention is now energy inefficient, with 90 percent of the energy wasted as heat rather than light.

Now here’s where it gets a little confusing — this month Congress barred the funds to enforce the new law. A measure attached to a one-year spending bill bars the Department of Energy from enforcing the standard through September of 2012, but manufacturers who have prepared for the change are still on board.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, companies will no longer be making the old 100-watt incandescent bulb, then the standards become more strict with each passing year.

In 2013, the 75 watt bulb will be phased out, and finally in 2014, the 40 and 60 watt bulbs will follow.

Settergren’s Hardware store in Linden Hills is already preparing for the switch. Owner Mark Settergren says the 100 watt incandescents can still be purchased, but will remain on the shelves until they sell out.

“We’ll just follow the rules and slowly they will disappear,” said Settergren.

He expects the market to turn to CFL’s (compact florescent light bulbs) as a transitional light bulb.

“The big advantage of a CFL is how long it will last, up to ten times longer than a regular light bulb, and it also uses 75 percent less energy,” said Settergren.

But many see the LED (light emitting diode) as the light bulb of the future because they are dimmable, mercury free, and longest lasting. A flood light at Settergren’s cost nearly $35, but it is expected to last more than 22 years.

At Xcel Energy, energy efficiency engineer Bruce Boerner calculates energy savings, and believes the extra money for LEDs’ is worthwhile.

“Those prices have come down significantly in past year, and 18 months, and they expect them will continue to drop dramatically as production ramps up,” said Boerner. “It’s one of the simplest and easiest things consumers can do to reduce their energy use.”

The new standards also require new labeling , the “lumens” listed on the front of a light bulb’s package, a measure of a bulb’s brightness. Labels must also include estimated yearly cost, and life span as well as color.

“The common sense standards President Bush put in place — with broad bipartisan support and strong backing from industry — will save families and businesses $6 billion on their utility bills during tough economic times. The incandescent light bulbs you’re used to will still be available, but they’ll cost you less on your electricity bill,” said Bill Gibbons, spokesperson for the Energy Department.

More information on the lighting choices available to consumers is online at www.energysavers.gov/lighting.

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