US advances switch to energy-saving light bulbs

The Department of Energy on Monday finalized two rules requiring manufacturers to sell energy-efficient bulbs, putting an expiration date on older, inefficient bulbs that don’t meet new standards.

This move will accelerate the pace of an already well underway lighting revolution, reducing electricity consumption, saving consumers money and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

The new rules, which reverse a Trump-era policy, expand energy efficiency requirements to more types of bulbs and ban the sale of those that produce less than 45 lumens per watt – a measure of the amount of light. emitted for each unit of electricity. This will eventually ban most incandescent and halogen bulbs and shift the country to more efficient and compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.

Once the new rules are fully in place next year, consumers are expected to save nearly $3 billion a year on their utility bills, the Department of Energy said. The rules are expected to reduce global-warming carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years, an amount equivalent to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year, officials said.

“The lighting industry is already embracing more energy-efficient products, and this action will accelerate progress in bringing the best products to American consumers and building a brighter, brighter future,” the Secretary of Energy said. Jennifer Granholm, in a press release.

In 2020, about 30% of light bulbs sold in the United States were incandescent or halogen bulbs, according to industry groups. The new rule prohibits the manufacture or import of incandescent bulbs as of January 1.

The new efficiency standard will take effect 75 days after it is printed in the Federal Register. But the Department of Energy will gradually implement the app over time. For manufacturers, the full application of the new rule will begin on January 1.


Retailers and distributors will have an additional seven months to comply, giving them more time to sell existing inventory. The American Lighting Association, a trade group, had called on the Biden administration to postpone the full implementation of tougher efficiency standards for light bulbs for two years.

In June, he warned that a faster switch from incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs would lead to “major financial losses” for manufacturers and lighting retailers, as well as a “glut of stranded inventory, piling up in individual showrooms and possibly landfills”. .”

On Tuesday, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade organization representing manufacturers of electrical products, including light bulbs, released a statement calling consumer adoption of LED lighting an “unqualified success.”

“NEMA appreciates the administration’s acknowledgment of the challenges industry faces in complying with the rule and the adoption of a more manageable compliance deadline,” said Spencer Pederson, a spokesperson for the group.

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the nonprofit Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said some major retailers like Ikea and Costco have already stopped selling incandescent bulbs. Others should be able to comply with the new rules faster than the government’s timetable allows, he said.

“These changes have certainly been a long time coming,” deLaski said. “This means that all consumers, wherever they buy, will have access to a range of efficient LED choices that will save them money, light like the bulbs they replace and last 10 times longer. is good news with rising energy prices.”

The Trump administration in 2019 slowed a years-long campaign by Congress and previous administrations to switch Americans to LED bulbs and other lighting that uses less electricity. Former President Donald Trump said in September 2019 that the Department of Energy reversed a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs because “what’s saved isn’t worth it.”

At the time, advocacy group the Natural Resources Defense Council said the reduction could increase energy consumption by an amount equal to the output of 30 large power plants.

But Trump has denounced more efficient bulbs, telling Republican House lawmakers in 2019, “The light is no good. I always look orange.”

Each month that incandescent light bulbs remain on the shelves equates to about 800,000 tons of avoidable carbon dioxide emissions entering the atmosphere over the lifetime of these products, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

Proponents hailed the latest rule change, saying it would ensure commonly used bulbs meet an easily achieved efficiency standard.

“This is a victory for consumers and for the climate, a victory that is long in coming,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce energy waste and combat climate change.

LED bulbs “have become so cheap that there is no good reason for manufacturers to continue selling 19th century technology that is simply not very efficient at turning electrical energy into light”, Nadel said. The new standards will “finally phase out energy-guzzling light bulbs across the country.”

Information for this article was provided by Anna Phillips of The Washington Post and Matthew Daly of The Associated Press.