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Are incandescent lightbulbs dead?

For nearly a decade, the incandescent lightbulb has been on the way out. CNN drafted an obituary on Dec. 31, 2013, and Fox News said as 2013 ended, “and so does the ordinary lightbulb.”

In the decade since they were proclaimed dead, LED bulbs have slowly replaced their incandescent counterparts as they’ve proven better for consumers and the environment.

How we got here

President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which required that lightbulbs be 25% more efficient by 2014. Fifteen years later, all incandescent bulbs were banned from sale in the U.S. because the price and availability of efficient lightbulbs matched incandescent bulbs.

The Department of Energy has been tasked to enforce the law and sue companies that still sell outdated bulbs. This doesn’t mean they’ll raid your homes and businesses. It simply means you won’t find incandescent bulbs on shelves at stores anymore now that LEDs are the norm.

Why ban incandescent bulb sales?

Incandescent lightbulbs have a filament inside that heats up to generate light. For a 100-watt bulb, the filament can reach temperatures of approximately 4,600 F. The surface of the bulb reaches 150-250 F.

LED lightbulbs have no filament. That means they don’t waste energy to make heat. All the energy an LED uses directly becomes light. LED bulbs have become more efficient and cost-effective over the years. They can last 30,000 to 50,000 hours compared to incandescent bulbs that last about 1,000 hours. This means no more burning your hand to change out bulbs and fewer fire hazards due to the heat of the filament.

Because they use less energy to produce the same light, experts expect LEDs will save consumers close to $3 billion on utility bills over the next 30 years.

Alliant Energy and LEDs

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we donated over 1,000 pink LED lightbulbs to Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to shine a light on the cause. Pete from PowerHouse TV, alongside Alliant Energy volunteers, helped hand out the lights bulbs to help customers show their support by replacing their porch lights and going pink in October.

Our Focus on Energy Marketplace (Wisconsin) and Alliant Energy Marketplace (Iowa) often have LED bulb sales to ensure customers have easy access to them.

LEDs and clean energy

Utilities provide enough energy for customers to power their appliances and lives every minute of every day.

By using more energy-efficient lights, customers use less energy. That helps utilities avoid costs to generate excess electricity and makes them less reliant on fossil fuels. By decreasing energy use at any given time, we reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas and helps customers avoid excess costs.

This allows wind, solar and energy storage to deliver the reliable, cost-effective energy customers expect. Follow along with our progress through our Clean Energy Blueprint.
Chris is a Communications Partner specializing in Alliant Energy’s renewable investments. Coming from a journalism background, he’s excited to tell the story of Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint and other renewable trends in new and exciting ways.

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