Say goodbye to Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb, as recently finalized Department of Energy rules will establish stricter energy efficiency standards for bulbs that will effectively phase out incandescents in 2023.
The new rules will accelerate the trend toward using compact fluorescent and LED bulbs that last 25 to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use less energy. The phase-out had been in progress for years under a 2007 law and was set to take effect in 2020, but the Trump administration slowed that effort.
Now the Biden administration is moving ahead with requirements for more energy-efficient bulbs to be used.
“By raising energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, we’re putting $3 billion back in the pockets of American consumers every year and substantially reducing domestic carbon emissions,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in a press release. “The lighting industry is already embracing more energy efficient products, and this measure will accelerate progress to deliver the best products to American consumers and build a better and brighter future.”
In addition to the energy cost savings, the phase-out will also help the U.S. meet its climate goals by cutting carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years - an amount equivalent to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year.
Incandescent lights work by heating a filament in the bulb until it glows. LED bulbs use electricity passing through a semiconductor, which illuminates tiny light sources called light-emitting diodes. LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy, emit less heat, and last longer than incandescent bulbs.
About 30 percent of the light bulbs sold in the U.S. in 2020 were incandescent, as LED bulb technology has improved and they have become cheaper to produce. The new rules will ban the manufacture or importation of incandescent bulbs as of Jan. 1, 2023. Retailers can continue to sell them until July 2023.
“This is a victory for consumers and for the climate, one that’s been a long time coming,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “LEDs have become so inexpensive that there’s no good reason for manufacturers to keep selling 19th-century technology that just isn’t very good at turning electrical energy into light. These standards will finally phase out energy-wasting bulbs across the country.”