When it comes to the Jan. 1, 2014, phase-out of 60W and 40W standard incandescent bulbs, Steve Levet of Atlantic Electrical Supply Corp. says he and his staff are already warning customers about the change ahead.
“We’re letting people know, but we’re not approaching it like a Chicken Little mentality — the sky is not falling and there are replacement lamps that are equal to what’s being phased out in terms of actual utility,” Levet explains.
Because 60W standard incandescents are arguably the most common bulbs used in U.S. households, this last phase of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) is anticipated to be the most troublesome for the public, and showrooms across the country are already preparing themselves and their customers for the transition.
Some stores are buying extra 60W standard incandescent bulbs to prepare for those customers who aren’t ready to make the switch right away. Mary Ann Kelly, President of Platinum Lighting Concepts, Cranberry Township, PA, says this is her strategy, mostly for the houses she works on.
“A lot of customers are not budgeting to put LED light bulbs as well as new fixtures into their houses,” Kelly says. “I’m actually hoping against hope that LEDs start to get more affordable because they’re still pretty outrageous for most customers.”
Kelly is also planning a Constant Contact e-mail campaign for the fall, where she will send out short snippets of information about the upcoming changes and how to prepare.
Levet, whose showroom held an elaborate “memorial service” for the 100W standard incandescent in 2012, says his team is starting to plan another promotion for this last phase-out to educate their customer base as well as the community at large. Although it’s top-secret now, he says it will be a lot of fun.
California adopted EISA’s phase-outs one year earlier than the rest of the country, so showrooms there can serve as examples of what other states might expect.
Melvyn Kahn, co-owner of Light Bulbs Etc. in Costa Mesa, CA, says more of his customers are switching to LED now than compared to the first phase out of 100W incandescents.
“With a little bit of education and being able to have all of the options available for our clients, invariably we’re finding that about 70 percent of people are switching to LED,” Kahn says.
His store has testers set up where customers can compare different light sources and see the pros and cons of each. His staff is also well-versed in all technologies and acts as an additional education source for shoppers.
More than anything, Kahn says that because manufacturers are now producing more efficient lumen-per-watt replacement lamps, customers are happier about the switch a year into it.
Although these increases in efficiency are helping with consumer acceptance, Levet says he wishes there were more support resources.
“We’ve had to develop our own educational material. We’ve put two YouTube videos together, which we produced in-house,” he explains. “I think the major and secondary manufacturers should be more aggressive in trying to educate the residential customer.”
At the end of the day, Kahn says that although energy efficiency is a major consideration, good lighting has many variables and customer education should start with that.
“People need to be enlightened as far as it’s not a question of one-size-fits-all. There are many types of efficient lighting that people just don’t know about.”