It takes Gary Botterbusch longer to choose lightbulbs these days because the spot on the hardware shelf where he used to find 75-watt lightbulbs is now empty.
Botterbusch tried to plan ahead for the phase-out of the good old fashioned incandescent light bulb.
“When I heard that they were going to be done away with, in the next couple years I bought up a ton of quantity of it, he said.
Under federal law, conventional lightbulbs are disappearing. The choices now will be more energy efficient halogen, compact fluorescent or CFLs, and light emitting diode or LEDs.
“The 100-watters have been completely phased out. You're probably going to find them very little anywhere,” said Ashley Spangler of Spangler's Ace Hardware. “The 75's as of the first of January are no longer in production. We are allowed to sell through the warehouse stock and what we have on our shelves, but once they're done this year then they're going to be going by the wayside, too.”
The change is being made to cut down on power consumption. A device at Yale Electric in Harrisburg shows how inefficient old incandescent light bulbs can be. The meter spins fast while powering a 100-watt bulb. Install a CFL bulb with the same light output and the electric meter spins less than half as fast. Then change to an even more efficient LED bulb and the meter is barely spinning at all.
“For every dollar you spend to power a regular light bulb, it's only going to cost you 20 cents to power an LED,” said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman of Consumer Reports.
“The longevity of the new bulbs are the real selling factor,” said Fred Lamason of Yale Electric. “We boast that you can put a light bulb in a socket when a baby is born and not need to change it until he's off to college.”
If you really love the old, cheaper 75-watt incandescent bulbs, some stores will have them for a few more months.
Next year, production of the 60- and 40-watt bulbs will end, and the incandescent lightbulb will only be found in history books.