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Lights out.

As you may have heard, the United States will begin phasing out the incandescent light bulb next year. While not technically a ban, the law responsible for the light bulb's demise mandates higher energy efficiency standards than what most incandescents are capable of meeting. Since they are so inefficient, all common 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt, pear-shaped light bulbs will be affected. Reportedly, only 10% of the electricity used by these bulbs is converted to light--the rest is wasted as heat. So in 2012, the standards will increase for 100-watt bulbs with the others to follow by 2014.

Of course, this could change. Like everything in Washington these days, even the humble light bulb has become the subject of a partisan fight. Democrats support the law and point to the energy savings it will create, while Republicans want to repeal it on the grounds that it is an unwarranted government intrusion into the free market. (Ironically, the new standard was introduced by a Republican and signed into law by President George W. Bush.)

As it stands, however, common, incandescent bulbs will soon be gone. Initial inconvenience aside, we will adjust. After all, it's not a catastrophe--that is, unless you're the makers of the Easy Bake Oven. The problem is that the toy that has been helping kids bake cookies since the 1960s has always used a 100-watt bulb as its heat source (evidently its inefficiency was good for something). Eliminating the bulb would have almost been like taking candy from a baby. But Hasbro anticipated the problem and instead of discontinuing a classic, they redesigned the Easy Bake Oven with a nonlight bulb heating element. They adapted. We can too. I'm sure Thomas Edison would understand.

Morgan O'Rourke

Editor in Chief

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Title Annotation:Preface
Author:O'Rourke, Morgan
Publication:Risk Management
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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