Light Bulb Standards Put on Hold
January 2, 2012 | Vol. 14, No. 1 (CFC Solutions)
Congress has delayed the implementation of light bulb energy efficiency standards that would have taken some incandescent bulbs off store shelves in 2012. Republicans successfully included language in a recent spending bill that cuts funding to the U.S. Department of Energy to implement light bulb standards originally laid out in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The standards would have triggered a phaseout of relatively inefficient bulbs beginning this week.
The standards—now defunded until at least October 2012—would have incrementally targeted 100-watt, 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs, requiring each to use less power in putting out the same amount of light.
Republicans argued that the standards would limit consumer choice; Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) called the delay a “present for all Americans,” according to The Hill newspaper. Some industry groups countered that the delay will have a negative impact on the light bulb industry.
“American manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in transitioning to energy-efficient lighting as a result of the EISA provision,” the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) said in a statement. “Delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty.”
Although the standards would gradually phase out less efficient incandescent bulbs, the technology is not going away anytime soon. Incandescent bulbs currently account for 80 percent of the bulb market, with CFLs accounting for the majority of remaining sales, according to NEMA. Sales of incandescent bulbs had been on a steady decline since sales of compact fluorescent alternatives began growing in 2003, although incandescent bulb sales for Q3 2011 were up 21.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
More information for consumers on the range of bulbs on the market is available at www.energysavers.gov/lighting.