Since lighting accounts for 14% of all of the energy usage in the United States, congress felt it was their duty to create a new set of standards as they passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That sweeping legislation impacted which incandescent bulbs are available for sale at traditional retail stores. Consumers have been puzzled by what is and is not available for sale any longer. The new regulations effectively ended the manufacture of the traditional seventy-five watt light bulb in the United States.
The congressional act has led many consumers to believe that all light bulb production for incandescent bulbs has stopped, but congress exempted several categories of bulbs. The most noted bulbs to have been exempted (but only for a year) are the sixty and forty watt bulbs. These bulbs have proven to be such a staple that congress has provided additional time to have the markets and consumers catch up with their regulations. While 3-way incandescent light bulbs received a waiver and are exempt, the traditional 100 and 75 watt bulbs were eliminated and will not be back.
Those bulbs were the wide-sweeping type that everyone notices. The trickier part for consumers has been tracking the availability of specialty bulbs. Here is a comprehensive list of exempt special purpose bulbs:
- Appliance bulbs
- High wattage 150 and 200 watt bulbs
- Rough service bulbs
- Vibration service bulbs
- Shatter-resistant bulbs
- Black lights
- Yellow bug lights
- Infrared lamps
- Plant grow lights
- Silver bowl bulbs with a reflective coating
- Outdoor post lights less than 100 watts
- All nightlights
- Candelabra bulbs less than 60 watts
While each of these bulb categories received an exemption because of their limited sales volume, trade associations are now required to report the sales volume by type of bulb as part of the legislation in order to identify surges in use that would warrant the removal of the exemption.
The goal is for the country to begin to migrate towards higher effiency compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) bulbs. In the long run, LED bulbs look to be the regulatory favorite as they become more affordable.