The two events had nothing to do with one another, and yet they are inextricably linked. I am an inveterate coupon clipper and in the latest mailer from BJ’s Wholesale Club (my big box savings store of choice) I noticed an eye-popping deal on LEDs—8 60 watt-equivalent bulbs from Sylvania for $19.99, or roughly $2.50 apiece. The next day, GE announced that it planned to stop manufacturing compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and focus instead on LEDs.
The market never really took to CFLs, for understandable reasons noted in my household as well: Most of them could not be used with dimmer switches, they generally took a long time to “warm up” to their claimed light output and the light itself was harsh, like the traditional tubular fluorescents that CFLs evolved from and not the soft light of old-style incandescent bulbs. Still, they were significantly more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and sales climbed steadily. According to DOE data (see chart below), by 2014, just two years after federal rules took effect that essentially served as the death knell for incandescent bulbs, CFLs accounted for 46 percent of all installed A-type lamps (the screw-in variety that make up the bulk of installed residential lighting). But that clearly was the high-water mark for the twisted CFL.