The Impact Of The Incandescent Bulb Change

I knew it was coming but sort of forgot regarding the change in incandescent bulbs that took place on January 1, 2014.  What change?  Well, they can no longer make the traditional bulb in 40 or 60 watt sizes.  It seems that this was the third and final year where they phased out these bulbs.  I sort of remember the 100 bulbs being hit a few years ago, and I’m guessing that 75 watt bulbs were the second phase, though I can’t remember ever buying one of those.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut we do buy and use the 40 and 60 watt bulbs, so this will definitely impact things.  It got me to thinking what our strategy will be and how much it will really affect us.

Where We Use Incandescent Bulbs Today: Affected By The Outlaw

The traditional bulbs will be phased out.  Bulbs with odd sizes will still be available, from what I’m told.  So, I thought I’d start by looking at where in the house we use these bulbs.

Honestly, there’s only one fixture I can really think of.  The fixture above our kitchen table has exposed bulbs, so we never converted these to CFLs.  There are five bulbs, and we replace at least 3-4 a year.  I’d say I probably have 3-4 in stock, meaning that I have one year before we’re out.

Oh, as I typed that I remembered one other spot.  My son has a table lamp in his room.  Given that he’s only four, anything in reach I figure should probably not have a CFL or very expensive bulb.  He’s already proven this a good idea as the lamp has hit the floor a couple of times.  The bulbs have never shattered but they did burn out.

Where Else We Use Incandescent Bulbs: Not Affected

We have other incandescent bulbs throughout the house, but for the most part they are odd sizes that I think will still be made.

Bathrooms: These are the biggest money wasters.  They are the globe bulbs.  We have a total of 16 of these bulbs in use between our three bathrooms.

Ceiling Fans: Each of the ceiling fans has three bulbs, that are small circles. We rarely use the built in lights on the fans.  My wife prefers table lamps.

Appliance Bulbs: We have bulbs in our microwave that are specific to that appliance.  One or both of the bulbs burn out regularly and this drives me nuts.  But I expect they’ll keep making them.  There are also bulbs inside the fridge, freezer, oven, microwave and dryer.

Hallway fixtures: In the various hallways, we have fixtures that take small round clear bulbs.  I went through and replaced most of these a few years ago and haven’t had to touch one.  I expect they’ll still make them.

What’s Left

Most everything else we use has been changed over to CFL bulbs.  We have three-way CFL bulbs in all of our downstairs table lamps. We have CFL bulbs in all of the bedroom lamps, save for the one mentioned above in my son’s room. We have CFLs in our outside carriage lights, as well as in all ceiling light fixtures.  I put most of the CFL bulbs in when we moved into the house in 2007, and it’s only been in the last 6-12 months that I’ve had to replace a few.

The Impact: Very Little.  So What Do We Do?

Honestly, the biggest impact with the new law is our kitchen light fixture.  With the five bulbs there, we have a few options:

  1. We could convert them to CFL bulbs.  When we moved in, my wife wouldn’t hear about it, but CFL bulb usage was pretty non-standard even seven years ago.  Now, they’re pretty well accepted, so seeing them in a light fixture wouldn’t look out of line.  But, it might be a hard sell with my wife if she doesn’t like the look of the CFL bulbs.  Cost: $10
  2. We could convert them to LED bulbs.  I’ve heard a lot of great things about the LED bulbs.  They are even more energy efficient than CFLs, they have a better hue of light, and they turn to full brightness just like the standard incandescent bulb.  The problem is the price.  Each of the bulbs is around $15, and they still might not look great, since the current bulbs are ‘clear’, and I don’t think LED bulbs come like that.  Cost: $75
  3. Replace the light fixture.  Honestly, the light fixture is nothing special. It was obviously a standard builder grade type fixture, and $75 worth of LED bulbs would probably more than triple what it’s worth.  I could probably buy a new fixture that would allow for CFL bulbs to look good, as well as the CFLs, for the same price of the LED bulbs.  And have a better looking fixture.

What option will we choose?  I’ll keep you posted.  I’m leaning toward the third one. As we have enough bulbs to get us through, I don’t have to scramble.   I would also have to think that I can buy more bulbs before they disappear off the shelves forever, or am I already too late?  However, I do like the idea of changing this fixture in some fashion, as I know it would save money to be able to convert to energy saving bulbs, as we use this fixture a lot.  Still, I haven’t been light bulb shopping yet this year so I honestly have no idea what the state of the 40 and 60 watt bulb has become.

Readers, have the light bulb changes caused you to have to re-think your light bulb strategy, either from a usage, price, or aesthetic perspective?  What have you done around your house or plan on doing to address the changes?

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