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Easy-Bake Oven: The light bulb wars hit home

Scott Tong Dec 27, 2011

Jeremy Hobson: Light bulb manufacturers have just a few days left of making those good old fashioned incandescent bulbs. This Sunday, they’ll stop manufacturing some of the bulbs in favor of more energy efficient ones.

Now for most appliances that use light bulbs, the switch won’t be a big deal because the new bulbs will still give off light. What they won’t give off is enough heat to warm up, say, an Easy-Bake Oven.

That little change is already causing problems in the household of Marketplace’s Scott Tong.

Scott Tong: On Christmas, 8-year-old Audrey Tong got the Easy-Bake Oven she requested. But Santa left out the heating element: A 100-watt light bulb.

Which we didn’t have, nor did any stores open Sunday. So we improvised with a 75.

Scott Tong: We have to bake it a little while longer.

Audrey Tong: Twenty? Or 18?

What’s wrong with a 100-watter anyway? Lighting industry consultant Craig Dilouie.

Craig Dilouie: It’s really a glorified heater. Only about 10 to 15 percent of its electrical input is actually produced as light. The rest is mostly heat.

That’s why President Bush signed a law to phase out the least-efficient incandescents. It’s been light bulb war ever since. Just last week, congressional Republicans deprived the government money to enforce the law.

Industry? Not happy — they invested for a high-tech future. Joseph Higbee speaks for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Joseph Higbee: So a delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty.

Back in the Tong kitchen, we pull out the Easy-Bake cake.

Scott Tong: Oh what do we got here? Oh not done. Put it back in. Two more minutes.

Doughy. Hasbro does make a newer oven with no light bulb required — Santa just didn’t deliver that one.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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