RIP: Say bye to incandescent bulbs

Don't Waste Your Money

Say goodbye to the light bulbs that date back to Thomas Edison.

One of the biggest changes shoppers will see with 2014 is the disappearance of a light bulb Americans have used for more than a century: the incandescent bulb.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, stores can only sell their remaining stock of the traditional bulbs.

When retailers run out, the bulbs will be gone forever.

The ban affects 40 and 60-watt incandescent bulbs. This restriction follows last year's phaseout of 75 and 100-watt bulbs.

Home Depot worker Roger Gabel said consumers who don't like "blue-looking" compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs have become angry over the ban.

"A lot of people don't like the color. They don't like the light it gives off. They don't like the shape," Gabel said. "People like the familiar shape of the light bulb. They've known it for years. They are comfortable with it."

Compared to standard incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eight to fifteen times longer, experts say.

But there's good news if you're not fans of these power-saving bulbs.

Stores are rapidly switching to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LED lamps have a lifespan and electrical efficiency  several times greater than incandescent lamps.

They look like old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, but will save energy and last for years. They also give off a warm light -- not the cold, blue light emitted from a CFL.

"It's built to look like a regular bulb," Gabel said. "It's a shape people are comfortable with. Everybody likes this bulb. It's what people grew up with."

Until this year, LED bulbs cost about $20 each. But a new LED bulb from a company called Cree currently sells at Home Depot for $9 -- and prices are expected to fall even more in the months ahead.

Gabel said shoppers who absolutely love the old incandescent bulbs should buy as many as they can now before they are gone.

"75 (watts) are going. 60s and 40s still exist but are on their way out as well," Gabel said.

Not all incandescent bulbs are disappearing, however. Skinny candelabra bulbs, some three-way bulbs and specialty appliance bulbs will continue to be manufactured.

But if you just like those basic 40-watt bulbs, grab them before they're gone so you don't waste your money.


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