DOE proposes light bulb standard

By Christa Marshall | 02/12/2016 03:50 PM EST

DOE issued a proposed rule this afternoon for light bulbs that would likely lead to the phaseout of compact fluorescent lights, analysts say.

DOE issued a proposed rule this afternoon for light bulbs that would likely lead to the phaseout of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), analysts say.

The rule has been under discussion for more than a decade. It was affected by a "light bulb rider" on appropriations legislation from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) that blocked DOE from spending any money to enforce or implement incandescent light bulb efficiency standards.

The new rule therefore uses a standard for incandescent bulbs already established by Congress in 2007 as a default, said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.


It also sets a second, higher efficiency standard for LEDs and CFLs — not affected by the rider — that essentially means LEDs will be the light bulb of choice in the future, he said, as they are the only technology that can meet the standard.

It’s significant because it essentially says "after 2020 CFLs are going to go away," he said.

As of 2020, incandescent bulbs must achieve 45 lumens per watt, as required by Congress under the 2007 law.

"While the standards leave the door open for a manufacturer to reinvent the 125-year-old incandescent light bulb to meet the standard, that’s unlikely because lighting manufacturers have shifted their R&D and investments to LED bulbs due to their superior efficiency, longer life, and excellent performance," the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a blog post.

The lifetime energy savings over a 30-year period would save about 0.85 quadrillion British thermal units of energy, or about 16 percent compared to a scenario without standards, DOE said. Cumulative reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through 2030 would be the equivalent of the annual electricity use of 1.3 million homes, DOE said. Net cost savings could be as high as $9.1 billion.

"U.S. consumers stand to save billions of dollars and gain cleaner air from this next phase of light bulb energy efficiency standards required under a 2007 law signed by President Bush. The good news is there are lots of bulbs on the market today that use one-fifth of the energy of the original incandescent bulbs but put out the same amount of light and last 25 times longer," said Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

DOE will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule on April 1.