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Lights out on incandescent bulbs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Lights out on incandescent bulbs

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

"Thomas Edison would be rolling over in his grave," Chuck Musante said.

Musante idolizes Edison. So, Jan. 1 will be bittersweet for the electrical engineer. That's when manufacturers of the traditional 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs stop making them.

"Now, this awesome invention that took us out of oil lamps and dangerous kerosene lamps is now going the way of the dinosaur I suppose," Musante said.

The federal government banned incandescents because they're so inefficient. This is actually phase two of the light bulb law. The feds flipped the switch on the production of 100- and 75-watt incandescent bulbs at the beginning of this year. And now it's lights out for all of them.

"You get both reactions: People who believe in why they are being phased out and people who don't want the government involved in how they light their homes," said Peter Casselman of Bibens Ace Hardware.

Bibens Ace Hardware in Burlington saw a slight bump in bulb buying before the new year-- before incandescents fade into distant memory.

"The 60-watt has typically been the standard light bulb," Casselman noted.

"It's a big new era in lighting," said Lara Bonn of Efficiency Vermont.

Efficiency Vermont, a green energy nonprofit, supports the bulb ban, pointing to improvements in more efficient alternatives like compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs.

"They are changing and getting better and better quickly," Bonn said. "CFLs have trace amounts of mercury, the same as a can of tuna. But the LEDs don't have any."

The new bulbs will cost you more up front, but incentives you already pay for through your electric bill have reduced retail prices significantly. And experts say you'll save money in the long run. Lighting makes up 20 percent of your electric bill.

"So, if you have a lot of incandescents, you are spending a lot on your electric bill and I would say there are lots of options," Bonn said.

Reporter Darren Perron: How much can somebody save?

Lara Bonn: Yeah, so for a typical CFL it's about $26 for the life of the bulb. And LEDs are more efficient, so more than that. That's one bulb. A typical home has 40 sockets. That's quite a bit of savings.

"It's too bad," Musante said. "But I understand."

Even Musante made the switch the already. He just might keep an old incandescent as a souvenir of a bygone era.

"Put it in a box and put it on the mantle, right? But I get it. It's the right thing to do. Energy is valuable and we shouldn't waste it," he said.

Retailers can still sell whatever incandescents they have in stock.

The rules were signed into law by President Bush in 2007.

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