Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 9, 2014

Going dark on incandescents

Federal law restricts lightbulb sales

By Doug Ireland
Staff Writer

---- — They’re gradually disappearing from store shelves — those 40- and 60-watt incandescent lightbulbs once ubiquitous in every home in town.

They’re going the way of the 100- and 75-watt incandescents, which have already been outlawed within the last two years.

As of Jan. 1, federal law has banned the manufacturing and importation of the 40- and 60-watt incandescents.

The incandescent bulbs still can be sold at U.S. stores until inventories are exhausted.

The goal of the Energy Independence and Security Act, adopted in 2007, is to switch to more energy-efficient lighting, including use of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. They are 75 percent more efficient and last at least 10 times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Incandescent bulbs cost a lot less than CFL bulbs, but generally don’t last as long.

Managers at several area stores said last week they had yet to see a run on the 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs, but won’t be surprised if customers start hoarding them. They speculated that most shoppers had not yet heard about the ban.

Just before 100-watt bulbs were banned in 2012, store managers said they started to sell a lot of them. The same thing happened shortly before 75-watt bulbs began to disappear last year.

Managers responded by placing extra orders to meet customer demand.

“I always stock up,” Gary Keleshian, owner of Optech in Andover, said.

Keleshian said he recently saw a surge in 100-watt bulb sales and is waiting to see if the other types will start flying off the shelves.

“I had a run a few months ago,” he said. “I sold off a lot of inventory.”

Robert Ducharme, manager at Bridge Street True Value Hardware across the border in Pelham, N.H., said many customers requested the 75-watt bulbs, but he wasn’t sure if the 60- and 40-watt bulbs would be scooped up as quickly.

“I don’t foresee a big rush,” he said.

But some customers do complain about the cost of the CFL bulbs, he said. An eight-pack of 60-watt incandescent bulbs costs $2.99, compared to 99 cents for a single CFL bulb.

“That’s the biggest gripe,” Ducharme said.

CFLs also don’t cast as much light for at least several minutes after being turned on — one reason why some customers balk at buying them, store managers said. And there is some concern over the safety of the CFLs because they contain mercury, which can be a health hazard.

But several area residents said they prefer CFLs because they are more energy efficient and are expected to last up to seven years.

“It makes sense to me,” said one man who was shopping at an area Home Depot. “It’s more long term and sustainable.”