They used to be the brightest bulb in the room. Now, fluorescents are following their incandescent counterparts into a darkened closet.
In August, Oregon became the seventh state in the country to ban the sale of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The legislation follows similar bans passed in several states earlier this summer. Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island all passed bans between May and July 2023. Vermont and California adopted bans in 2022.
Oregon’s House Bill 2531 addresses the sale of fluorescents in two steps. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, it prohibits the sale or distribution of new screw- or bayonet-base type CFLs. Beginning Jan. 1, 2025, the law bans the sale or distribution of new pin-base type CFLs and linear fluorescent lamps.
In recent years, as the nation became more concerned with energy efficiency in general, and light bulb efficiency in particular, CFLs emerged as the perfect candidate to replace traditional incandescent bulbs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, CFLs use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
More recently, bulbs powered by LEDs began to eclipse CFLs as the better choice to increase the overall efficiency of lighting. The Department of Energy (DOE) notes that LEDs have several advantages over CFLs. They are even more efficient, plus they are more versatile, longer lasting and generate considerably less heat.
Beyond efficiency, CFLs also contain small amounts of mercury, which raises environmental concerns. Phasing out the sale of the bulbs would address both issues.
Leading the effort, the Biden Administration proposed higher efficiency standards in December 2022 intended to aid the transition from CFLs to LEDs. Many states don't want to wait for the White House to finalize the rule.
Vermont became the first state to ban the sale of CFLs. In May 2022, it adopted House Bill 500 (Act 120), which prohibits the sale or distribution of four-foot general-purpose, low-pressure, mercury-containing linear fluorescent lamps (tubes). The ban goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.