DOE’s Light Bulb Standards Rollback Will Cost Americans $14 Billion Each Year

September 4, 2019

Media Contact(s):

Casey Skeens, 202-507-4043, Communications Manager
Maxine Chikumbo, 202- 507-4292, Associate, Communications Program

Washington, DC—Today, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released two rules that continue the administration’s assault on common sense light bulb energy efficiency standards. The standards, scheduled to take effect in January 2020, would require most everyday light bulbs to achieve LED levels of energy efficiency, would save consumers billions of dollars, and would avoid millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

DOE issued a final rule that eliminates efficiency standards for about half of the six billion light bulbs used in US homes and businesses. The rule rolls back a 2017 light bulb definition that would expand the standards to cover the full range of bulb shapes and sizes used in our homes, including candle- and globe-shaped bulbs, candelabra-based bulbs, and reflector bulbs used in ceiling fixtures or track lighting.

DOE also issued a proposed determination designed to eliminate the 2020 standards for “A-lamps,” the pear-shaped bulbs that make up the other half of light bulbs. According to DOE, this notice — if finalized— would prevent automatic standards enacted by Congress in 2007 from taking effect. 

Based on ASAP and ACEEE analysis published last year, eliminating the 2020 standards for all light bulbs would cost US consumers up to $14 billion annually, which works out to more than $100 in lost bill savings every year per household. The rollback would increase annual climate-change emissions by about 38 million metric tons per year, or approximately the amount emitted by 8 million cars.

In response to these actions, Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), made the following statement:

“It makes zero sense to eliminate energy-saving light bulb standards that will save households money on electricity bills and cut climate change emissions by reducing the amount of coal and gas burned in power plants. LED light bulbs are a proven, popular product – it’s time for the national minimum standards to catch up to today’s technology.  Instead, the Trump administration is siding with manufacturers that want to keep selling outdated, energy-wasting light bulbs.”

Jennifer Amann, buildings program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), added:

“In 2007, Congress took initial bipartisan steps to transition to energy-efficient lighting by 2020 with the support of lighting manufacturers, consumer and environmental advocates, and the Bush administration. Advances in LED bulbs—including vast decreases in retail prices—have outpaced the expectations set in 2007. Now is the time to complete this long-anticipated transition by moving forward with minimum standards that lock in energy bill savings and pollution reductions to benefit all Americans.”

A range of attorneys general as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, and many other organizations spoke out against DOE’s plan to roll back the scope of standards and will undoubtedly consider legal challenges to today’s actions. In addition, several states (California, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont and Washington) have enacted state light bulb standards in anticipation of the federal rollback.
 

ACEEE acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.