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Energy-wasting light bulbs are out; lower utility bills are in for the New Year

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As Americans ring out the old year next week, unbeknownst to most, they are also ringing out the 19th century, energy-wasting, inefficient incandescent light bulb. The net result is consumers will soon save $13 billion a year on their electric bills. Starting January 1, light-bulb companies will not be allowed to manufacture or import 40 and 60- watt incandescent light bulbs.

If stores have been stockpiling these dinosaurs of the lighting world for nostalgic friends of yester-year, they will be allowed to sell them. Eventually they will not be able to find any to re-stock. And, if you are attached to these energy wasting vestiges of the turn of the century—the 20th century-- you can use them until the last one burns out. No one is going to pry them out of your hands.

Despite efforts of Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, who blamed the bulb’s demise on President Barack Obama, the death warrant for the old bulbs actually became law when oilman, George W. Bush, signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law, mandating that low-efficiency light bulbs be gradually removed from production. The 100-watt and 75-watt bulbs have already been phased out. The most popular 40 and 60 watt bulbs are the last to go.

All of the major lighting companies, including GE, Philips and Sylvania, support the changes and have upgraded their supply chains to produce the energy-savings bulbs. It will be possible to buy incandescent bulbs; they will just be more efficient than before in order to meet the requirements of the law.

Most Americans have no idea its coming. Lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania recently released its sixth annual "Sylvania Socket Survey," which found that only 4 in 10 consumers were aware that 60-watt and 40-watt light bulbs are being phased out in 2014 as production ends.

Consumers will have three choices for new energy-efficient bulbs. The Natural Resources Defense Fund has a buyers guide listing various options for new bulbs, and the relative energy savings of each. Check it out.

When President Bush signed the law, it is estimated that when all the phased-out bulbs finally burn out, Americans will save $13 billion a year on their electric bills. Enough energy will be saved to eliminate the equivalent of 30 coal-fired power plants. That not only save utility customers money, it will prevent massive amounts of carbon pollution from going into the atmosphere to worsen the effects of climate change. It also will clear our air and reduce pollution-worsened illnesses like asthma.

Everyone wins except electric utilities, and the demagogic politicians who put polluting utility company profits ahead of the well being of their constituents.

May old acquaintances be forgotten and never brought to mind. Sorry Rep. Blackburn! You gave it your best, It's tough to force Americans to spend an extra $13 billion a year for electricity just to help coal-fired power plants.

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