As the global shift toward green continues, Congress has shown they are taking concerns over climate change, pollution and resource use seriously. Can it be said that they're starting to see the light?
Although a recent bid to force electric companies to increase wind and solar power to 15% of total electrical output by 2020 failed, Congress is getting close to passing an energy bill that contains a little-known provision designed to phase out the 125-year-old incandescent light bulb in the next four to 12 years. Instead the future will be lit with next generation energy-efficient lighting, as USA Today reports.
Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today's products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.
Compact fluorescent bulbs already meet that 70% efficiency standard. They also last six to 10 times longer than incandescents. Compact fluorescents now cost around $2, vs. about 50 cents for an incandescent. Halogen bulbs, specially designed energy-saving incandescents and the emerging light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The new rules are expected to save consumers $40 billion in energy and other costs from 2012 to 2030, avoid construction of 14 coal-fired power plants, and cut global-warming emissions by at least 51 million tons of carbon annually, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The move to ban the bulb isn't wholly surprising, given similar announcements by Australia, Canada and Ireland, as well as discussions in the European Union and New Zealand. California legislators have discussed a possible state-wide ban.
Any mandatory changes to consumer behavior is going to rankle some critics. But looking back in history, most become widely accepted and appreciated in time for their wide benefits to society. Think of leaded gasoline, radium dinner plates, mercury thermometers, seat belts and child-proof containers. A few decades from now, people may look back on incandescent light bulbs as relics so inefficient that they are dangerous.
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