Lights Out: New Energy Saving Regulations Are leaving Some Consumers In The Dark

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Buying lightbulbs is no longer the simple task that it used to be, new federal regulations are leaving some consumers in the dark.

Steve Goodman wanted to replace his garage light bulb, but when he went searching for a new one, he found that they no longer make the kind he’s been using for the last 25 years. Goodman’s bulbs are among the energy-guzzling bulbs being phased out in favor of more energy-efficient bulbs.

“Suddenly you have all these fixtures with nothing to put in there that’s gonna fit its like how do you deal with all that,” said Goodman.

The new federal regulations that take effect January 1  have some consumers in a panic. Goodman is not alone in his frustrations, David Brooks owns, Just Bulbs, a light bulb shop on the Upper East Side and told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown about his concerns.

“They’re hoarding them, they don’t want to change with the law so they’re buying enough for the rest of their lives,” he said

The regulations state that manufacturers must stop making the traditional, inexpensive incandescent bulbs by Friday, that includes the basic 100-watt bulb. Manufacturers will only be able to make bulbs that meet more stringent energy rules.

Brooks explained that consumers will see an immediate difference because the more efficient bulbs last about 10-times longer, they also come in a wider variety of colors and shapes.

“This one’s about $9 and this one’s about $2, so the price differential is huge but it would pay for itself in a matter of 3 months of operation,” he said.

But the learning curve remains frustrating for many consumers.  Most of the newer bulbs will fit into older fixtures but some will not.

The Goodmans were able to get an adapter for theirs, but said that more transparency and explanation was necessary for consumers to understand the changes.

“It needs more explanation, give us the real story and give people real alternatives of how to make it work,” Steve Goodman said.

“In the end, it’s a good thing, but it’s a pain. It’s definitely a pain,” said Robin Goodman.

The biggest adjustment for consumers will be how to use the new bulbs. Unlike traditional bulbs, the new ones use more power being turned on than being left on.

“Most people aren’t getting the full savings because they are turning it on and off all the time,” explained Brooks.

While political red tape stripped the new law of the funding needed to enforce the regulations most manufacturers say they’ve already invested millions of dollars in the new technology and have already begun to phase the old bulbs out.

The new regulations call for the  lower wattage bulbs to be phased out by 2014.

Are you ready for the switch? Let us know in our comments section…

  • DanTe

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • nathan

    These new light bulbs confuses me. Anyone know where I can get the regular ones?

    • Nick

      A lot of things confuses you.

      What? No more 1 per centers dying comments?

  • Ahead of the Curve

    I’ve already made the switch — twice. Several years ago, I went to 60W equivalent CFLs. Last spring I bought an 40W equivalent dimmable 8W LED and screwed it into one of 4 track lights in my living room/home office. Not only did it appear brighter than the adjacent CFLs, but the light quality was so much better than I could not long stand to look at the putrid CFLs and bought 3 more LEDs.

    More recently, I bought 4 non-dimming LG LEDs (7.5W, 30,000 hour life) for the high hats in my kitchen, providing better and brighter light than their CFL and incandescent predecessors. It was a special promotion at $10 per bulb and I revel in the ability to turn the lights on and off as needed without shortening bulb life.

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