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Poll: Americans OK with newer light bulbs

10:42 PM, Feb 17, 2011   |    comments
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Most Americans support the U.S. law that begins phasing out traditional light bulbs next year and, despite some consumer grumbling, say they're satisfied with more efficient alternatives, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

Nearly three of four U.S. adults, or 71%, say they have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs (light emitting diodes) and 84% say they are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the alternatives, according to the survey of 1,016 U.S. adults taken Feb. 15-16.

The results come as GOP efforts intensify in Congress to repeal the bi-partisan 2007 law, which begins phasing out the traditional incandescent bulb in Jan. 2012. Two dozen House Republicans, led by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, proposed a bill last month to repeal the phaseout, saying most Americans oppose it.

"The market should determine the future of the incandescent light bulb, not Congress," says Steve Taylor,? spokesman for Rep. Todd Akin,? R-Mo., a cosponsor of the repeal effort.

In the USA TODAY survey, 61% of Americans call the 2007 legislation a "good" law while 31% say it's "bad." Support was particularly high among Democrats and self-described liberals, of whom 70% and 83% respectively called it a "good" law. Republicans and self-described conservatives were evenly split in their views.

"The results are overwhelmingly positive," says Noah Horowitz,? a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that supports the phaseout of inefficient light bulbs.

He expects all Americans would back the law if they knew it does not ban incandescents but simply requires them to be more efficient. So the old-fashioned 100-watt bulb, which U.S. companies cannot make after Jan. 2012, will be replaced by a halogen version that produces the same light, as measured in lumens, but uses only 72 watts of electricity.

Horowitz says this lighting change benefits consumers, because even though halogen incandescents, CFLs and LEDs, have higher upfront costs than traditional bulbs, they save money long-term in lower utility bills.

"It is encouraging to see in the poll that Americans are becoming more comfortable with the transition to more efficient lighting for their homes," says Larry Lauck,? spokesman for the American Lighting Association, a trade group.

The survey found that of the 16%, or 154 adults, who disliked the newer light bulbs, the most common reasons had to do with cost and light quality.

About one-fourth, or 26%, say the light is not bright enough and 16% say the bulbs are too expensive. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minor 4 percentage points.

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