Biden flips the switch on Trump’s incandescent light bulb plan

By Ella Nilsen, CNN

In another throwback to Trump-era policy, President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy on Tuesday finalized a new efficiency rule to phase out older high-energy incandescent light bulbs.

The new rule states that bulbs must emit a minimum of 45 lumens per watt. Lumens are a measure of brightness. The rule is an effective nail in the coffin for incandescent bulbs, which use higher wattage than LED bulbs for the same amount of brightness.

Old bulbs that don’t meet the new standard will have to be phased out of production within 75 days, and the Department of Energy will work with manufacturers to ease the transition. Full enforcement of the rule will come into effect in July 2023, which is also the deadline for retailers to stop selling them.

The move is the culmination of a decades-long bipartisan effort to phase out inefficient light bulbs. Energy efficiency standards were included in an energy bill passed under the George W. Bush administration and implemented under the Obama administration.

But the Trump administration rolled back those regulations in 2019. Trump himself complained about the light coming from LED bulbs, once telling House Republicans “I still look orange” in the energy efficient lighting.

The new rules strengthen enforcement of a transition that has been happening for years with the rise of energy-efficient LED bulbs. The efficiency of LEDs means they last much longer than incandescent bulbs: LEDs typically last 30,000 to 50,000 hours or more, while incandescent bulbs last about 1,000 hours, according to DOE data. .

The Energy Department estimates the rules will save U.S. consumers nearly $3 billion on their utility bills and also expects to cut global-warming carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the course of the year. of the next 30 years.

“By raising energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs, we’re putting $3 billion back in the pockets of American consumers each year and dramatically reducing national carbon emissions,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. in a press release. “The lighting industry is already embracing more energy-efficient products, and this action will accelerate progress in bringing the best products to American consumers and building a better, brighter future.”

Even with the Trump administration’s delay, LED usage has increased in American households. Nearly half of U.S. households reported using LED light bulbs for most or all of their indoor lighting, according to the 2020 Residential Energy Use Survey. This is a huge increase from the 2015 survey, where only 4% of households reported using LEDs for most or all of the indoor lighting.

Environmental groups applauded the Biden administration’s decision on Tuesday.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to phase out obsolete, inefficient light bulbs because that progress has been illegally delayed by the Trump administration for more than two years,” said Joe Vukovich, an energy efficiency advocate for the United Nations Defense Council. natural resources, in a press release. “LED bulbs, which will replace older incandescent bulbs, use one-sixth the amount of energy to provide the same amount of light and last at least 10 times longer.”

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