What will be the Fate of the Light Bulb in 2019?

thumbnailThe iconic pear-shared incandescent light has been on its way out for several years now as LED (light-emitting diode) and CLF (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs have become more affordable and popular. In part, this decline was driven by energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy (DOE), with the first national light bulb standards being signed into law in 2007.

In 2012, a new standard required all “A-type” incandescent light bulbs (those iconic looking bulbs) to save at least 25-30% of energy compared to the same type of a traditional incandescent light bulb. A second phase of the regulation went into effect in 2017 and was set to change the light bulb industry by 2020, with the expectation that an expanded number of light bulb types would have to meet a higher standard. Without new advancements in technology, this would make the old familiar incandescent light bulb obsolete.

The DOE May Roll It All Back

Recently, the DOE announced a plan to rollback the 2017 expansion of the standards, citing that the revisions “misconstrued existing law.” Energy-efficiency advocates immediately released statements decrying the move and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), an association that includes national light bulb and fixture manufacturers praised the move. As a company that chooses to work with energy-efficient products and processes, but also understands the challenges that companies face when new policies are developed, we decided to look at both sides of the debate.

The Market is Already Changing, Why Force a Law

For NEMA and lighting manufacturers there seems to be a sense that the introduction of new types of light bulb technology, mostly LEDs (CLFs have been declining in sales in more recent years), are naturally chosen over incandescent lights. The significant reduction in cost for LEDs has made it made an easier choice for most people. The diversity in options like color for these light bulbs have been increasing, reducing the need for incandescent light bulbs. If the market is already making a transition to light bulbs that are more energy efficient, why legislate it? They also express concern about the narrowing of options for people, especially those in lower income brackets.

Making Green Choices Isn’t Always Easy, Laws are Important

For energy conversation organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the push for national standards versus letting the market sort things out is critical because of the amount of energy and the related negative environmental impacts that old-style light bulbs can have. While some manufacturers will opt to develop more energy-efficient and longer-lasting light bulb technology and some people will buy them, ultimately, groups like ACEEE find that it isn’t a high enough adoption rate to have the quick and immediate change that they feel is needed in light of the alarming reports of the effects of climate change.

In the End, Consumers Win With New Light Bulbs

Though both sides may approach this rollback of lighting standards from different sides, there are compelling reasons, why you should embrace the new energy-efficient light bulbs already on the market and other light bulb technology yet to be released. For consumers and homebuilders, one of the most important benefits of these light bulb standards and the new technology that has been introduced to the market is the significant cost-savings in energy bills and the longer lifespan of newer light bulbs like LEDs.

In a brief released by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), they estimated that the savings in energy bills by 2020 in the United States would be $10 billion. The ACEEE estimated that saving at a higher rate, saying, “consumers would lose at least $12 billion each year in electricity bill savings by 2025, amounting to about $100 per household per year,” if the proposed changes went into effect. Knowing that simply changing the light bulb you purchase could save you around $100 per year, keep you from having to replace them for around 10 years, and contribute to a significant win for the environment, this simple green choice becomes a much easier decision for consumers – national standards in place or not.

Choosing the Right Light Bulbs is a Big Deal to Us

At Emilygrene Corp. our first passion started with retrofitting older light fixtures for newer energy-efficient LED light bulbs. We help industrial, corporate, institutional, and residential homebuilders choose energy-efficient light bulbs, fixtures, and solutions that help the environment, as well as provide a return on investment to our clients. If you are considering a lighting retrofit for your facility or are a residential homebuilder who would like to learn about how to provide energy cost savings to your homeowners, please contact us to schedule a time to talk.

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