As of January 1, traditional 75-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the United States, continuing a national transition to more efficient lighting by 2014.

The first phase of the new federal light bulb standards, as set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, went into effect last January with traditional 100-watt bulbs being phased out (though Congress de-funded the enforcement of those standards at the end of 2011). Under the regulations, all bulbs must be 27 percent more efficient. (See related post: “LED Holiday Lights Boost the Season’s Energy Efficiency.”) That means a bulb that used to use 75 watts must now use fewer than 53.

Conventional incandescent light bulbs tend to cost less up front, but waste more money and energy over the long haul. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of the electricity they use through emitted heat. On the cost front, Consumer Reports found, for example, that a $40 Philips AmbientLED bulb can save $160 in electricity and replacement bulbs when used in place of a 75-watt incandescent.

Shoppers in the U.S. are learning, via product labeling and public information efforts, to look for lumens (a measure of brightness) rather than watts (how much power the bulb uses) when buying light bulbs. (See related quiz: “What You Don’t Know About Energy-Efficient Lighting.“) The equivalent of an old 75-watt bulb produces a minimum of 1,100 lumens.

The EPA notes in a fact sheet that incandescents aren’t going away completely. Many halogen bulbs, which are incandescent, meet the new regulations (but they won’t last as long as LEDs and CFLs). To get a sense of the impact you can make by replacing traditional light bulbs with more efficient ones in your home, check out the Light Bulb Savings Calculator.


  1. Will E
    Pacific NW
    January 2, 2013, 11:48 pm

    Hey Jack, you sound like my kinda guy. Can I come over and play? We could have some fun practicing in your neighborhood then go over to Roberts & pull those teeth! I’d even split the profits from the gold ones with you! That’s what I call free enterprise. Dam socialists/commies!

  2. Maxine
    Cypress, CA
    January 2, 2013, 10:56 pm

    I thought this bill had been dropped since I stopped hearing about it. I have also found that these bulbs don’t work any better than the original incandescent bulbs. I live in Southern CA, so heat isn’t a problem. I haven’t noticed these lasting any longer than the older ones. For now at least, they are being sold at the same price with the governments help for people with low income programs.

  3. George Wagner
    United States
    January 2, 2013, 10:37 pm

    I can read fine by daylight.

    But CFLs do not give me enough illumination to read by night..

  4. robert
    United States
    January 2, 2013, 9:06 am

    Jack the Commie killer- you’re really embracing what America is all about in your post!
    Go get yourself some Cottonelle Double Roll with Aloe & E seeing how your still sore from the election.
    This is why people absolutely despise, i can’t even call you a conservative. But I can think of one that starts with and A and ends with an E.

  5. Daniel
    December 29, 2012, 11:26 pm

    A question rather than a comment. I live in a cold climate, where “waste” heat is a benefit for much of the year.
    So the question: how efficient is an incandescent bulb for generating heat compared to an electric space heater?

  6. Bob Burnitt
    Ellis County Texas
    December 29, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Always be WARY of anyone that tries to sell you LESS of their product. The MARKET place should rule, but when the government gets involved the BULLIES win. When people start “buying less” of the product (electricity) these people that are FORCING us to buy these “efficient” light bulbs will just raise the price to pick up the slack. Pay MORE and get LESS, it is the American way. People should have a CHOICE, this is supposed to be a FREE Country!!!

    I have tried some of those new light bulbs. They cost MUCH more, and I have had trouble with several of them fluttering and flickering and buzzing. I live in the “country” and we have several power surges per day. Those things do NOT appear to tolerate the power surges. I have used 130 volt COMMERCIAL bulbs for years. They are hard to find but will take power surges up to a point, and they last a very long time. So, another CHOICE has been taken away from me by the government. The Light Bulb Gestapo. Bob Burnitt Ellis County Texas

  7. Ken Reed
    Houston TX
    December 29, 2012, 5:47 pm

    I have been using various “long-life” light bulbs for over 20 years, and have yet to find one at any price level that would last anywhere near the number of hours claimed. The highest-priced one sold at Home Depot for $8.95, and lasted about as long as an ordinary incandescent bulb that costs well under a dollar. The new regulations on bulbs are a scam to boost profits of bulb manufacturers — among them GE, which makes billions and pays ZERO U.S. corporate taxes.

  8. KL
    December 29, 2012, 2:13 pm

    The U.S. government has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100% and climbing, due to put us in the same fiscal situation as Italy and Greece by 2016.

    And they’re worried about light bulbs. It’s like worrying about door knobs as your house burns down.

  9. Donald Berrian
    Topsfield, Massachusetts
    December 29, 2012, 2:05 pm

    I thought this law was repealed by Congress, certainly it should be. I starting converting my house to CFL’s over a decade ago but there are many places where that is either uneconomic, impractical, or dangerous. To cite a few examples:

    1. The incandescent bulbs in your oven can’t be replaced by CFL’s unless you like burned plastic and mercury in your cookies. LEDs are also destroyed by heat.

    2. Low usage lights such as garage door opener bulbs, bathroom mirror lights, cabinet lamps, etc. can’t be replaced by CFL’s because they take too long to heat up and are too dim until they get warm. CFL’s are also completely uneconomic in these applications because they are rarely on. Halogen lamps are bright immediately but the halogen cycle doesn’t work unless they are left on for long periods so they will burn out very quickly in these applications. LEDs are far too expensive to use where they are on for only 10 minutes a day.

    3. There are still no good replacements for decorative lights in chandeliers or for Christmas decorations. I have tried all of them and they are really ugly. The LED Christmas lights blink at 60Hz and are very disturbing to look at. LED’s need DC power and the manufacturers of the strings don’t provide the components required to convert AC to DC.

    For economic and environmental reasons, almost all of the light in my house is provided by fluorescent bulbs. On the other hand most of the light bulbs will always be incandescent bulbs for the reasons mentioned above. If I have to stockpile them, I will.

    The attempt to force people to switch to CFL’s, etc is being pushed by manufacturers who want to sell $7 bulbs instead of 75 cent ones. It is an excellent example of government corruption, is bad for the environment, the economy, and dangerous besides. The members of Congress who voted for this law should be rudely reminded of who they are supposed to be working for. “Environmental” laws that feed on corruption don’t benefit the public or the environment.

    By the way, I also have a bag full of worn out CFL’s and no way to get rid of them because dumping mercury in the trash is a bad idea.

  10. Stephen Meschke
    December 29, 2012, 1:36 pm

    I have a small, well insulated house, with 9 bulbs in the living/dining room. If I use 100 watt incandescent bulbs, the room is lit with a pleasing spectrum of light, and with three people in the room, there is a total of 1200 watts of heat being generated.

    Replacing the nine 100 watt bulbs with CFLs, the room is lit with a harsh spectrum of light. The color temperature of the bulbs washes out skin tones, making faces look pale. In addition, the CFLs don’t provide much heat, so a small, but dangerous, space heater is necessary. In the winter, I am still using exactly the same amount of energy to light and heat.

    To make things worse, the CFL bulbs failed at around 1/10th their rated lifespan.