Fluorescent lamps and LED to replace traditional incandescent light bulbs

TAMPA - The simple act of flipping a switch and watching Thomas Edison's invention go to work may be changing.

A 2007 energy law signed by former President George Bush is phasing out the traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb on January 1, 2012. In its place will be fluorescent lamps and LED bulbs.

Traditional bulbs cost roughly 30 cents per light, while fluorescents can go as high as $4.50, with LED's considerably higher.

Brazil and Venezuela started to phase out the incandescent bulbs in 2005, while Australia, parts of Europe and Switzerland did it in 2009, with Argentina, Russia and Canada set to follow suit in 2012.

There have been concerns about safety, because the fluorescent lamps contain mercury, which could lead to potential problems with cleanup and disposal. Those are some of the things which concerns Tampa's Holly Saffell, the mother of a 6-year-old son.

 "The cost is going to be ridiculous," Saffell said.  "The cost is going to be out of this world.  And right now, we can't afford a lot of things anyway, so we have the cost.  The danger is ridiculous, that we would put these mercury-filled things in schools, around our children.  If they break, you almost have to have someone come in and clean it up for you.  As a matter of fact, some people have had to do that."

Home Depot stores are trying to stay ahead of the planned changes, slicing prices on incandescent bulbs and creating room for new ones.

"Some customers are hoarding the lightbulbs, they're treating it like prohibition times", said Home Depot employee Beth Albright. "They're buying them by the cases, the old incandescent bulbs, because of the internet hype.  So, people are getting panicky and they're buying as many as they can."

"We are having to train or basically teach our customers the difference," said Home Depot master electrician Joan Briddes. "It used to be easy:  you'd buy a lightbulb.  Not any more, you have more choices."

If the law stands, the 100-watt lightbulb will disappear in January, with the 75-watt in 2013 and the 60 and 40 in 2014.

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