12.15.2011 1

A bright idea for Christmas shoppers

By Rebekah Rast — As you light up your final Christmas decorations this holiday season check what kind of light bulbs you are using.

If it happens to be a 100-watt incandescent bulb, you’d better stock up on some replacements now.  Come Jan. 2012, this bulb will no longer be available here in the U.S.

The phasing out of the traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb is only the beginning.  Over the next three years, all incandescent light bulbs will be phased out unless they somehow meet the new energy requirements and become 30 percent more efficient.

These new standards have helped light bulbs like the LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) gain in popularity.  These bulbs are more efficient and last longer, but are also more expensive.

While new technology is good, it shouldn’t come at the expense of restricting consumer choice.

“The government is attempting to micromanage our decisions as consumers,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “The federal government has no power to tell any citizen what types of lighting they are allowed to use.”

Though various bills have been voted on in Congress to repeal these energy mandates impacting the incandescent light bulb, none have been successful.

So as you either rush to the store to begin stocking up on incandescent light bulbs or begin the task of switching out your bulbs to newer technologies, here’s some handy advice from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in case you are interested in CFL bulbs.

If a CFL breaks while you are relighting Christmas decorations or changing out any of the other lighting sources in your house, it is important to air out the room where it broke.  If it fell and broke on a hard surface, you can carefully scoop up the broken pieces and place them in a canning jar or a zip-tight plastic bag.  Be sure to not sweep or vacuum the area.

If the bulb breaks over a rugged or carpeted area, then you can vacuum the area once you have all the visible pieces of glass and powder picked up and sealed in either a jar or plastic bag. But, according to the EPA’s guide, you then need to wipe clean your vacuum’s canister or remove the vacuum bag and place it inside another plastic bag. If you do have to vacuum, there are more instructions on how to set your vacuum on the proper settings.

If a CFL does break, you will want to be sure it does so under one of these first two scenarios. If the bulb breaks on your new Christmas sweater or holiday quilt, the EPA recommends throwing them out. Washing them will only wreak havoc on your washing machine or contaminate the sewage. In this case, not only did you spend $5 on a light bulb, but you also eat the cost of your newly purchased Christmas apparel.

Remember, before throwing your canning jar or plastic bag directly into the trash when you are finished with the clean up or after the light bulb has burned out, you need to check with your local or state government to find out the proper protocol for throwing it away.

On second thought, maybe it’d just be easier to go stock up on incandescent light bulbs while you still can. And while you are at, these traditional, time-tested-and-proven light bulbs make excellent stocking stuffers as well.  Merry Christmas!

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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