Future going dark for standard light bulbs

The light bulb that Thomas Edison invented is going the way of dinosaurs and VCRs. A ban on production of 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs kicks in with the start of 2014.

Seventy-five and 100 watt bulbs were already banned last year.

The process of buying light bulbs used to be easy, but now consumers have to know about LEDs, CFLs, which bulbs are dimmable and which ones have mercury in them.

"Light bulbs aren't just light bulbs anymore," said Jim Everman, manager of the electrical department at the Myrtle Beach Home Depot.

The 2007 law phasing out standard incandescent bulbs means that Americans have to learn a new light bulb lingo of compact florescents and light emitting diodes.

Those bulbs happen to cost more than the old ones, but Everman says the replacements are more efficient in the long run.

"So far, I've had reports back from people on the CFLs, it's saving them about $20 a month on their electric bill when they totally convert over."

Everman says consumers converting to all LED bulbs can save up to $40 a month.

Some bulb buyers are open to making the change.

"I mean, 85 percent savings. You got to start looking at other ways of helping the environment and this is a great way to start," said Tom Mockbee of Myrtle Beach.

Despite assurances that the changeover to CFL and LED bulbs will save money and energy, some consumers are unconvinced that the phase out of incandescent bulbs is a bright idea.

"I think it's stupid. I mean, what was wrong with what we had?" said Paul Piette of Little River.

That's a common sentiment from bulb customers, Everman says, but he adds the new CFLs and LEDs are getting cheaper, their quality of light is getting better, and there's a new type of incandescent bulb that's more efficient than the old one - and it's still legal.

Finally, for people who just can't drag themselves away from the old bulbs, there are still some in stock, but consumers need to act now before the standard incandescent bulbs burn out for good.

"When these are gone, I can't get any more," said Everman, pointing to a store display of the old bulbs.