The act of having an especially good  or clever idea is often  represented  in visual media by a  glowing light bulb appearing above the thinker’s noggin. The “Aha” look on the person’s face coupled with their index finger pointing skyward serve as optional accents to the universally understood symbol for a stupendous notion in action.  Whatever the opposite of a light bulb spontaneously appearing above one’s head would be- perhaps a rotting egg or a pet rock would materialize out of thin air, – is how I felt when I recently read about the phase-out of  incandescent light bulbs occurring not only in the U.S, but in numerous other countries on multiple continents.

Apparently my ignorance of this incandescent lighting phase-out, which in the United States was put into motion  with the passing of the Energy Independence and Security Act in  December of 2007, is not uncommon. The second annual “Socket Survey” conducted by Osram Sylvania revealed that while 74% of people surveyed said they have switched to energy-saving light bulbs in the past year, that only 26% were aware of this mandated phase-out which will begin with the phasing out of 100 watt bulbs in January 2012. Subsequent years will have higher watt bulbs meeting a similar end in the United States, with 75 watt bulbs going bye-bye in 2013 and 60 and 40 bulbs meeting  same dim fate in 2014.

The bright idea (light bulb puns, they are addictive) behind this phase-out is to cut Green House emissions and save on energy costs, which seem to be sound enough reasons to eradicate the production of an item. This phase-out though, like most governmental legislation, is not without its critics. The most likely immediate replacement for incandescent bulbs during this phase-out for consumers will be Compact Fluorescent Light, or CFL’s for brevity’s sake . These types of bulbs have been the recipient of harsh scrutiny as regions across the globe enact their own phase-outs of incandescent bulbs. Issues  ranging from the type of light they give off (unflattering or headache inducing) to concerns about the dangers of the mercury contained within these bulbs have caused some people in areas such as the UK to hoard the more familiar incandescent bulbs before there are no longer any left to buy.

While I can surely agree with a move towards a more energy- efficient type of lighting, I also can relate to an uneasiness to give up  what is  familiar for a newer technology- especially when that technology is the light bulb; an invention that truly revolutionized the world  (perhaps even more so than the  George Foreman Grill- come on, you know you have one, and  you LOVE it!) .  I can especially relate to this apprehension after looking over the seemingly intensive  rules for safely cleaning up and disposing of one of the mercury-containing CFL light bulbs if it becomes broken. This apprehension could also be born of  ignorance and a laziness when it comes to chores that have more than three steps, such as the Foreman Grill’s simple formula of chop, grill and eat.

Either way, as the GI Joe public service announcements used to say,  “knowing is the half the battle”,  your guess is as good as mine as to what the other half of the battle may be, but perhaps now that you are aware of this ban you can begin to adjust for your future without incandescent lighting.

-Meghan Hurley