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The dusty box of spare light bulbs that most consumers keep in their basement or a closet is about to become as much of a relic as the cassette tape or the VCR, writes Andrew deLaski, executive director, Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), in a recent blog post.
LED bulbs, which cost as much as $50 just a few short years ago, now routinely sell for $5 and less, and light up a room just as well, if not better, than Thomas Edison's invention, while using a fraction of the electricity. Plus, they last 10 to 25 years, meaning consumers will no longer need that box of spares any more than they need a spare clothes washer or stove.
New proposed lighting efficiency standards released Feb. 12 by the Department of Energy (DOE) are the latest step in this transformation of the everyday light bulb, set in motion when Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) in 2007. The latest proposed rule continues that transformation, building on the technological revolution sparked by that 2007 law.
EISA contains two phases. In Phase 1, from 2012 to 2014, Congress required that incandescent light bulbs use 25 to 30 percent less energy. As a result, the old 100-watt incandescent light bulb has been replaced on store shelves with a 72-watt halogen incandescent bulb, and the old 60-watt bulb with a 43-watt version. Halogen incandescent bulbs ("halogens") now account for about 50 percent of light bulb sales, with the rest made up of more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
In Phase 2, Congress required DOE to complete a revised light bulb standard no later than Jan. 1, 2017, to take effect in 2020. Congress also added a "backstop" provision. Under the backstop, the law says that if DOE fails to set a new standard which saves at least as much as a 45 lumens per watt standard, then the minimum standard for all light bulbs becomes 45 lumens per watt. In the proposed rule issued in February, DOE determines that this "backstop" will be triggered, and that therefore the congressionally established minimum will take effect in 2020.
To read a related blog post, by Noah Horowitz, senior scientist and director, Center for Energy Efficiency, Energy & Transportation program, click here.
The ACEEE acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For more information,visit aceee.org.