In case you didn’t know, incandescent light bulbs may soon be unavailable at a store near you.

The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed by Congress in 2007, will prohibit the sale of incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012 with 100-watt bulbs and phasing in 40-watt bulbs and above in 2014.

California has already started banning stores from restocking 100-watt bulbs.

There are concerns surrounding alternatives for incandescent light bulbs.  Both LED and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are much more expensive than traditional light bulbs and some models are too bulky to fit existing light fixtures and lamps.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee are seeking to repeal the ban through the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act.  The Committee noted several drawbacks for CFLs:

  • Most CFLs are not manufactured in the United States. A recent Washington Post story reported that GE is shuttering a plant in Winchester, Va., killing 200 jobs in the process.
  • CFLs contain mercury and have to be disposed of carefully. The amount of mercury in one bulb is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels. The EPA recommends an elaborate cleanup ritual, including throwing away any clothes or bedding that has come in direct contact with the mercury from the bulb.
  • CFLs are not designed to be turned off and on frequently; the lifespan of a CFL may be reduced by up to 85 percent if you switch it off and on a lot.
  • CFLs can raise your heating bills. They’re not great for interior use in a cold climate, because they produce less heat than incandescent bulbs. So you save on electricity, but have to pay more in heating costs.
  • People with certain health conditions can be harmed by CFLs. Reactions range from disabling eczema-like reactions, to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer.
  • The Energy Star program warns that CFLs can overheat and smoke.

This is a prime example of government overreach.  With high unemployment and rising energy and food costs, this ban will force consumers to spend more of their hard earned money on basic necessities such as light bulbs.