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Consumers resist light bulb change.

Byline: Alli Knothe

WORCESTER -- While Thomas Edison's standard incandescent light bulbs will soon be a thing of the past, many consumers are not yet ready to give them up in exchange for more energy-efficient options.

On the last day of 2013, Mary Cron of Auburn placed seven packages of incandescent bulbs into one of the Barrows Hardware's red shopping baskets along with her other purchases.

"I heard on the radio they wouldn't be sold anymore,'' Ms. Cron explained.

Those standard incandescents are on their way off of shelves, as the 40- and 60-watt bulbs are the final stage of government-regulated phase-outs preventing certain wattages from being manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S.

The Energy Independence and Security Act passed by Congress in 2007 declares that the bulbs no longer meet federal energy-efficiency standards. While consumers are not barred from using them, the bulbs will be available in stores only until those made before the law went into effect on Jan. 1 are sold out.

In 2012 and 2013, the 100- and 75- watt bulbs were discontinued in the US. This step was forecasted to wipe out about half of the consumer lighting market. The supply of appliance lights, three-way and other specialty incandescent bulbs will not be affected.

Brian Barrows, general manager of the Webster Square hardware store, said customers are well aware of the change.

He estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 packs of the 40- and 60- watt bulbs, if not more, were still available in stock from the store's supplier.

"We have been getting a lot of calls to see what I've got left,'' he said, adding that customers like Ms. Cron, if they could, would prefer not to make the switch to other lighting options.

In fact, according to a December research study from lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania, three in 10 consumers plan to stock up on the bulbs before they are gone.

The study also found that, when shopping for bulbs, consumers are most concerned about how bright the light will be, followed by how long it will last before it needs to be replaced, and finally the price and energy consumption.

Behind the incandescents, the next most popular lights are compact fluorescent, or CFLs, Mr. Barrows said. At $8.99 for a 3-pack, the 13-watt bulbs he pointed to advertise 10,000 hours of light.

"There are 4 billion light bulb sockets in the U.S. and more than 3 billion of them still use the standard incandescent technology that hasn't changed much in 125 years... These bulbs look, feel and operate just like regular incandescent bulbs; they just do it more efficiently,'' Energy Star wrote in a statement.

The program, run by government agencies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, goes on to explain that a standard incandescent bulb loses 90 percent of its electricity as heat, rather than light.

According to a study by light-manufacturer Sylvania, about 50 percent of consumers are expected to switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs, while about 25 percent will start using the more expensive LEDs.

Another option is incandescent halogen bulbs, which are not as efficient as CFLs or LEDs, but are making steps to become more efficient.

Tom Cusson of Auburn stopped in to buy a couple of the bulbs to use for a remodeling project at his home. He said he likes that they are inexpensive and very bright, but does not plan to stock up since "I would probably forget where I put them.''

Contact Alli Knothe at Follow her on Twitter @KnotheA
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Title Annotation:Business
Author:Knothe, Alli
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 2, 2014
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