Californians can start saying goodbye to traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulbs now that the state has become the first in the U.S to require a new standard for the screw-base bulbs.
Experts say the new rules, which took effect New Year's Day, will save residents money and energy. California is already the nation's leader in energy-efficiency standards, and in many cases; a world leader.
As of Saturday, what used to be a 100-watt light bulb manufactured and sold in California will have to use 72 watts or less. The 72-watt replacement bulb, also called an energy-saving halogen light, will provide the same amount of light, called lumens, for lower energy cost.
Similar new standards for traditional 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will go into effect in California over the next few years, with wattages reduced to 53, 43 and 29 respectively.
The new rule does not ban incandescent light bulbs; it just requires those bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient. And it only affects incandescent light bulbs manufactured in 2011 or later, not those already in use or on store shelves.
The new lights are comparably priced to the regular incandescent lights. A two-bulb package of 100-watt incandescent bulbs is about $4.32 at Lowe's, while a four-bulb package of new 72-watt halogen bulbs is $8.66, or $4.33 for two. By contrast, a two-bulb package of energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) is $11.28.
A new energy efficiency standard, passed in 2007 by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, becomes effective nationwide on Jan. 1, 2012. But California and Nevada, which already had energy-efficiency standards in place for lighting products, were able to adopt the law earlier.
California's energy commission said the state's move will avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs this year and save consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills.
By reducing energy consumption, the new energy efficiency standard also will reduce air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants.
California's move follows similar laws that have gone into effect recently in Europe and Australia.