Incandescent bulbs banned (again)


The Biden Administration has implemented a ban on incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient bulbs, following a years-long bipartisan effort to phase out the bulbs after earlier regulations and standards were blocked by President Donald Trump.

The Department of Energy (DOE) approved new rules for light bulbs last year that took effect Aug. 1, including a new minimum standard for light bulbs at 45 lumens—or brightness—per watt, an increase over the average 12 to 18 lumens per watt for incandescent bulbs.

The decision was meant to conserve energy and “help consumers save on their energy bills,” as more energy-efficient bulbs—like LEDs—use at least 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to the department.

An effort to phase out less efficient bulbs was initiated by former President George W. Bush, whose Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007 called for household light bulbs to have “about 25 percent greater efficiency,” though it did not outright ban incandescent bulbs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Former President Barack Obama added two new regulations to the act in 2017, which would have effectively phased out incandescent bulbs and other specialty bulbs, like candle-shaped bulbs used in chandeliers, by January 2020, according to the EPA.

The DOE later blocked the regulations during Trump’s presidency in 2019, after Trump—who said energy-efficient bulbs Americans were “being forced to use” made him “look orange”—advocated against them and other environmental regulations.

Retailers will be prohibited from selling any bulbs—including incandescent bulbs—that don’t match the new standard, though households using any existing bulb that does not meet the standard will not be required to stop using them.

An estimated 30 percent of U.S. households used incandescent or halogen incandescent light bulbs in 2020, according to the DOE.

Regulations on less efficient bulbs have faced opposition over the last two decades, as some Republicans argued the rules violated “personal freedom,” while others, including former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), argued using energy-efficient bulbs was more cost-efficient. Jim Presswood, energy policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a 2011 statement that “consumers, the economy and the environment” would “suffer” if the regulations were not approved.

An effort to phase out incandescent light bulbs comes amid concerns they contribute to climate change. The DOE estimates about 5 percent of global carbon greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to lighting, while bulbs that are less energy-efficient—like incandescent bulbs—contribute more because they produce more heat. The new regulations are expected to cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons—an amount equivalent to emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year—over the next 30 years, according to the department.

The DOE estimates Americans will save $3 billion in total on utility bills by using energy-efficient bulbs for a full year.

Excerpt Ty Roush, Forbes