New light-bulb regulations will save energy, but hit you in the wallet


by Katherine Whaley / KHOU 11 News

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 18 at 5:41 PM

HOUSTON – The next time a light bulb goes out in your home, you might not find an exact replacement.

The Dept. of Energy is making a big switch that could help save the environment, but cost you more money.

Starting in January 2012, traditional 100-watt light bulbs will be phased out, and manufacturers will be forced to make more energy-efficient – and more expensive – incandescent bulbs.

"What it means is that when consumers come to the store, what they will see is the bulbs that will be on the market will be 25 percent more efficient," Dr. Kathleen Hogan of the Dept. of Energy said.

But it comes at a cost to the consumer.

"It means, like everything else, with gas and everything else that’s going up, we don’t have control over," Gladys Blount, a customer at Light Bulbs Unlimited, said.

The Dept. of Energy argues that in the long run, consumers will save on electricity costs with the more efficient bulbs – about $50 a year in the typical home.

But for those short on cash now, paying three times as much for light bulbs is not in the budget.

"It is a sticker shock, and it’s not something I think I should have to plan for," Blount said.

The new bulbs do put out less heat, and they’re compatible with old light fixtures.

But only time will tell if they make a difference.

"I really don’t know if it’s going to do that much good," Ralph Brown, manager at Light Bulbs Unlimited, said.

If you want to go ahead and stock up on the new bulbs, they’re available on store shelves now – just look for the "eco-friendly" label.