A new light for a new year

Published Jan 2, 2014 at 9:53 am (Updated Jan 2, 2014 at 9:53 am)

Thanks to a new federal law, consumers will have to use LED or fluorescent light bulbs to shine some light on 2014.

The law bans the production of the popular incandescent light bulbs in an attempt to conserve energy.

In 2012, companies stopped the production of 100- and 75-watt incandescent bulbs.

On Jan. 1, the second phase of legislation kicked in with the banning of production of 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs.

Dick Holsen, a sales associate with Miller’s Ace Hardware in McMurray, said stores have been preparing for the transition with sales and visual aids and trying to help customers understand what they are buying and the energy consumption difference.

“There’s a slight difference in color and there is a differences in lumens (the amount of light a bulb puts out),” he said. “But like anything else, you’ll have to try it.”

He switched his home to compact fluorescent lamp bulbs, or CFLs, a while back and said they actually make a difference.

“I’ve saved a lot of energy and money,” Holsen said. “But, I’ve seen a 50-50 acceptance rate with customers.”

Many people, he said, are reluctant to relinquish their incandescent light bulbs.

“People come in here and buy buggy-fulls,” he said. “A lot of people are worried about the mercury in the CFLs and the time it takes for them to warm up.”

Holsen said there is a 30-second delay before a CFL bulbs reaches its full brightness. However, manufacturers are fixing the delay as the product evolves, he said. “They have the instant bulbs now.”

As for the mercury, Holsen said manufacturers have assured stores the bulbs contain only a small amount.

“It’s like the size of the tip on a ballpoint pen,” he said. “When we were little, we used to play with the mercury inside of thermometers. We’d roll it around in our hands, and we’re still alive.”

Like the 75-and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, Holsen believes the 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will be available for purchase for some time.

“We have 440 packs of the 60s, 94 packs of the 75s and 18 packs of the 40s,” he said. “I would say it would be a year, year-and-a-half before we couldn’t get them anymore.”

Smaller hardware stores throughout the area still have 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs on the shelves, but unlike Miller’s Ace Hardware, once the stock is gone, it’s gone. Donnie Adams, head of sales at Bentleyville Hardware, Plumbing and Heating, said the store only has a few packs of each left. “Once they are gone, we aren’t getting anymore,” Adams said. “Then we’ll bring the twisty bulbs in next.”

At Al Lorenzi Lumber in Washington, sales representative Don Stillwagon said they’ve got roughly a dozen of each left on their shelves.

“We are getting out of light bulbs, so once they are gone, they’re gone,” he said.

Stores are offering slashed prices to get rid of the incandescents sooner. Holsen said a four-pack of incandescent bulbs dropped from about $3.79 to $2.29, a big difference compared to the $14.99 for a four-pack of CFLs.

“But it’s worth it in the long run,” he said. “You save money and electricity.”

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