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Banning the bulb

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2009
Anne L. Fischer, Senior Editor, anne.fischer@laurin.com

In the interest of reducing energy consumption, governments around the world are reducing use of the venerable incandescent lightbulb that has illuminated lives for more than 100 years.

In the US, the Clean Energy Act of 2007 banned incandescents that produce 310 to 2600 lumens of light (with certain bulbs being exempt). This prompted several states to enact their own restrictions – for example, California, which will phase out incandescents by 2018. Environmental groups have joined with Philips Lighting to launch an initiative to replace all bulbs with energy-efficient lighting by 2016.

GRgov_Bulb_iStock_7560500Med.jpgAustralia may be the first kid on the block with an aggressive national plan. It banned the importation of “noncompliant lighting” as of November 2008 and, by 2010, selling incandescents will be banned altogether. (Compliant bulbs must meet Australia’s minimum energy standard of 15 lumens per watt.)

In other areas of the globe, governments are taking different measures toward the reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The Philippine government has banned incandescents by 2010. The Swiss government has banned all bulbs of the energy efficiency classes F and G (which means most incandescents) starting in 2009. Italy and the European Union have banned the sale of incandescents as of 2010. The government of the UK plans to phase out the sale of incandescents by 2011. The government of Ontario, Canada, has banned the sale of incandescent lightbulbs by 2012, and Canadian electrical regulations now require LEDs in emergency exit signs.

Governments moving toward banning incandescents are taking a step closer to reducing energy use worldwide. If all the incandescents used today were replaced with compact fluorescents, it’s estimated that electricity use would be reduced by three-quarters. Each compact fluorescent that takes the place of an incandescent reduces energy use the equivalent of burning 200 pounds of coal. If reducing carbon in the atmosphere is not enough to motivate some to reach up and change a bulb, perhaps the savings in cost will drive them. It’s estimated that replacing one 60-W lightbulb with one standard 13-W compact fluorescent reduces electricity bills by $30 during the lifetime of the bulb. Imagine how much we can save when LED lighting begins replacing compact fluorescents.


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