Emerald Coast makes list of leaders in light-bulb switchover

Jacob Fuller

Due to a federal mandate, traditional incandescent light bulbs will be phased out beginning Jan. 1. According to the nation's leading light bulb retailer, the Emerald Coast is already well ahead of most of the nation in the change.  

Home Depot released a list of the nation's top 50 regions in purchases of LED and compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs per capita. The region from Destin to Panama City was one of the top 50.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, passed by Congress and signed by former President George W. Bush, made it illegal to manufacture or import Thomas Edison's most famous invention in the United State as of Jan. 1, 2014. Proponents of the law said the move was to phase out incandescent bulbs in support of the LED and CFL variety, which use less electricity. Thus, supporters claim, the bulbs will save people money in the long-run by cutting energy costs.

"When you replace your bulbs with the new LED or CFL bulbs, you save a lot of money. Not only that, the new bulbs don't have any heat," Chuck Moran, manager of commercial sales at the Destin Home Depot, told The Log.

Consumers will notice the difference at the cash register, though. Incandescent bulbs sell for as little as $.37 per bulb in a four-pack of 60-watt bulbs at Home Depot. Sixty-watt equivalent CFL bulbs start at about $1.50 per bulb, and LEDs come in at a whopping $12.50 per bulb. That difference is small in comparison to the energy savings, though.

"You can save up to $55 on your electric bill per bulb in a year," Moran said.

David Campbell, director of public services with the city of Destin, told The Log the city already uses very few incandescent bulbs, as most lights in city buildings use fluorescent bulbs. He said the city has no specific plan to replace what few incandescent bulbs it currently uses, but that the transition will be made in the near future.

"There has been talk about changing all of our outside lights to LEDs to save energy costs, but there is no formal policy," Campbell said.

Retailers will be allowed to sell what incandescent bulbs they have in stock as of Jan. 1. Once those are sold, the incandescent bulb's more-than 130 year run on the U.S. commercial market will officially come to an end.

Opponents of the law have noticed other issues aside from the increased price of the bulbs. CFL bulbs contain mercury, an element that is poisonous to people and can cause health hazards if the bulbs are broken. Because of this, it is recommended that CFL bulbs be recycled and never thrown away in the trash.

Additionally, consumers who use light dimmers in their houses will be disappointed. Only certain LED and CFL bulbs work with dimmers, and not with traditional incandescent dimmers. They only work with dimmers specially designed for the new bulbs.