Socket To Us
Laura Van Zeyl

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the nation’s number of 60W sockets to be somewhere around 971 million, the majority of those being used in homes. Symbolically, the first phase of Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was significant, like the first shot fired over the bow that got all the media attention and political posturing. But in terms of its actual impact on consumers, this final phase — with new energy-efficiency requirements for 60W and 40W equivalent lumen outputs — is more than a game changer. It’s the amazing race.

As the incandescent lamps in those sockets inevitably burn out, consumers will be faced with new replacement options that speak a foreign language of lumens versus watts. They’ll be navigating the differences between EISA-compliant halogens, compact fluorescents and LED technologies. They’ll be confused. They’ll be frustrated because it used to be so simple. They’ll need you.

Packaging and personnel that can sherpa customers through the purchase process will be invaluable. Because let’s face it — the hand that rocks the socket right now stands to rule the lighting world. Once bulbs with significantly longer life spans move into these lamps and fixtures, they won’t be going anywhere for a good long time. Manufacturers recognize this opportunity and have been preparing with products that put their best footcandle forward.

This is a chance for lighting showrooms, too, to re-educate their markets about where customers should buy their bulbs. With a wider range of choices available covering a variety of price points and applications, expertise carries a premium. And the less frequent need to replenish negates the need for extreme convenience, buying bulbs where one is already shopping for groceries or paint, for example. Bulbs are no longer just commodities. They should now be considered an extension of the designs that will host them, bought thoughtfully with confidence from a store with a core competency in lighting — like yours.

Seize this last EISA stage as a platform to go public with your valuable knowledge and capabilities. Use tools available from your vendors and others. Reach out to local newspapers and TV programs who mistakenly think that the “bulb ban” is old news. Alert them that their readers and viewers are about to say farewell to the majority of their filaments. Explain the alternatives to standard incandescents, the pros and cons. Blog about it. And since you are the best resource in town for new solutions, be sure to brag about it.

It’s not everyday that a paradigm shift of this magnitude comes along — especially one that stands to shift so many sales in our direction.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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