CNN reports that a California legislator wants to ban incandescent light bulbs.
The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
"Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications," California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine said Tuesday.
"Meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light." Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week, his office said.
Even though compact fluorescent lights (CFL) cost more initially, they use only a quarter the energy as incandescent bulbs for an equivalent output of light, and they last for several years. Ultimately, they pay for themselves several times over.
According to the CNN article, 20 percent of home electricity costs are related to lighting. By switching from incandescents to CFLs, a home could reduce its total elecricity costs by fifteen percent.
I'm not sure if simply banning incandescents is the best legislative way to proceed. Rather than legislating particular technologies, it may make more sense for lawmakers to legislate standards.
Set the efficiency bar high enough, and incandescent bulbs would be effectively banned because they're not efficient enough. The benefit to this approach is that it encourages further innovation, particularly if the structure of the law is gradually to increase the minimum standards.
In the future, white LED lights may surpass CFLs for overall efficiency, since LEDs last longer and are less costly to dispose.