DOE Finalizes Long Overdue, Legally Required Efficiency Standard for Common Lighting Products

Efficient, Longer-Lasting Light Bulbs Will Save Consumers $3 Billion Annually

Washington, D.C. – Today, consumers scored a victory with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) action to implement efficiency standards for a wide range of lighting products. The rules will require common household light bulbs and other lighting products to meet an efficiency standard, which is easily achieved by today’s energy-efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). More efficient lighting standards were required by law to take effect in 2020, but the Trump administration refused to do so. Thanks to today’s action, consumers will save $3 billion annually on utility bills with more efficient lightbulbs. It is estimated the rule will also help mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 222 million metric tons over thirty years.

Annual pocketbook savings were meant to start over two years ago, however, the previous administration refused to implement the 45 lumens/watt “backstop” standard for a wide range of lighting products mandated by Congress.[1] Each month of delay has cost American consumers nearly $300 million in higher utility bills and has resulted in another 800,000 tons of climate-changing CO2 emissions being released over the lifetimes of the incandescent bulbs sold in that month.

Thankfully, consumers have already benefited from the more efficient LEDs available on the market; however, approximately 30 percent of light bulbs sold across the United States in 2020 were still energy-wasting incandescent or halogen incandescent lamps. Nearly all of these bulbs would fail to meet the statutory 45 lumens/watt backstop standard. Because most LED lamps can meet the 45 lumens/watt standard, DOE’s actions are expected to accelerate the ongoing transition to LEDs. Changing just one bulb from an incandescent bulb to an LED will save $40 ⎼ $90 over ten years. Using a low estimate of $55 in savings and assuming a household has 45 incandescent bulbs, switching to LEDs translates into $1,000 in net savings over ten years.

To allow for a smooth market transition, the standard will not be fully enforced until July, 2023. “We applaud forward-looking retailers such as Ikea who have already pulled inefficient light bulbs from their shelves and are selling only energy-efficient LEDs. We urge other retailers to follow their lead and do the same so consumers can benefit starting with their very next purchase,” said Richard Eckman, Energy Advocate at the Consumer Federation of America.

“The long-awaited change to lightbulb efficiency standards is welcome news for all consumers and, in particular, financially struggling households who, on average, have disproportionately higher energy burdens,” said Charlie Harak, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “The revised standards will help ensure that all consumers have access to low-cost, energy-efficient LEDs that will bring tangible savings each time they replace an incandescent bulb with a more efficient LED bulb.”

[1] The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 required that the backstop standard go into effect on January 1, 2020, in the event DOE did not itself adopt a standard at least as energy efficient

Contact: Richard Eckman, CFA, 202-939-1013