Goodbye to Incandescent Light Bulbs: New Energy Efficiency Rules in Effect

ByAlan Caldwell

 AUG 2, 2023

Get ready to bid farewell to the once ubiquitous incandescent light bulb, as new federal energy efficiency regulations have gone into full effect. The Energy Department rules, implemented during the Obama administration and reinstated by the Biden administration, establish strict efficiency standards for bulbs used in homes and businesses. These rules also ban the manufacture, sale, and imports of bulbs that do not meet the requirements.

Traditional incandescent bulbs, traced back to Thomas Edison’s 1880 patent, and halogen bulbs cannot meet these new standards. However, the impact of these requirements is somewhat diminished due to the advancements in LED technology. LED bulbs, which stand for “light emitting diode,” have seen a significant increase in usage among American households in recent years. According to the Energy Information Administration, the percentage of households using LED bulbs for most or all of their lighting has risen from 4% to 47% between 2015 and 2020.

Fortunately, the new rules do not affect bulbs that are already owned, and they also exempt special-purpose incandescent bulbs, such as those used in ovens. However, replacing halogen and incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs can result in significant energy and cost savings. The Energy Department estimates that U.S. consumers can save nearly $3 billion annually on their utility bills with LED bulbs. Additionally, the rules are projected to reduce carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years.

LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and cost-effective compared to incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs produce light by running an electric current through a filament, resulting in high energy loss as heat. In contrast, LED bulbs are manufactured using a process similar to computer chip production, making them highly efficient. They generate minimal heat and use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs while also lasting up to 25 times longer.

With these new regulations in place, the phase-out of incandescent bulbs is well underway, and consumers are increasingly embracing LED lighting for its energy efficiency and cost savings.


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