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California To Eliminate Incandescent Bulb Sales

As part of the 2007 National Energy Bill passed by Congress and signed by then President George Bush, the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs would end in 2020.  California has decided to push that date up by two years, the only state in the country to make that decision.  As a result, stores will not be allowed to sell incandescent light bulbs made after January 1, 2018.

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NDRC), the switch away from incandescent bulbs will save people and businesses in California more than $1 billion a year in energy savings.

From the NDRC website:

The standards cover the everyday light bulbs used in our homes and require new bulbs to meet a minimum efficiency level of 45 lumens per watt (LPW), which means they must be roughly three times more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulbs. (Lumens measure the amount of light a bulb produces, and watts measure the power it consumes.) There are no incandescent or halogen bulbs on the market today that meet these levels, so consumers will be choosing between new compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. Given that LED bulbs deliver superior performance relative to CFLs, they are likely to be the bulb of choice going forward.

The standards apply to all state-regulated bulbs manufactured on or after January 1, 2018, and offered for sale in California. Retailers can sell through their inventories of bulbs manufactured prior to January 1.

WHAT BULBS ARE COVERED, AND WILL REPLACEMENTS BE AVAILABLE?

The standards apply to most medium screw-based bulbs used in our homes and businesses, including the ubiquitous pear-shaped bulbs used in table and floor lamps, the globe or round bulbs of more than 40 watts used in bathroom vanities, and the candle-shaped lamps of more than 40 watts used in chandeliers and sconces. A wide assortment of energy-saving LED bulbs in every shape and light output level already can be found on the shelves of leading retailers across the state.

California’s light bulb regulations currently exempt some types of bulbs, such as those used in ovens, most re ector/ ood bulbs, bug lights, and three-way bulbs.

ARE LEDS AS GOOD AS THE OLD INCANDESCENTS?

LED bulbs are as bright as the inefficient bulbs they replace and provide the additional benefits of lasting up to 25 years under normal operation of three hours per day. Most LEDs are also dimmable, and some of the newer LEDs can even be controlled remotely through a cell phone app. LEDs are so efficient that they use roughly 80 percent less energy than the equivalent incandescent. For example, the old 60-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by a 10-watt LED bulb that produces the same amount of light.

HOW MUCH WILL THESE CALIFORNIA STANDARDS SAVE?

With roughly 250 million sockets in California that still contain inefficient bulbs, the savings from the standard will be quite large. Once all of these sockets have been converted, the standard will lower California consumers’ electric bills by more than $1 billion per year and prevent the emissions that would have been caused by generating the additional electricity that incandescents require.

WHERE DID THESE STANDARDS COME FROM?

As part of the 2007 national energy bill passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush, energy efficiency standards were established for new light bulbs that ensured a smooth and gradual national transition to energy-saving bulbs. The first phase of the standards required that incandescents use roughly 28 percent less power beginning in 2010 in California, and that new bulbs be even more efficient starting in 2020 nationally and as early as 2018 in California. Manufacturers and retailers have known about the standards for more than 10 years and have had ample time to update their supply chains.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EXISTING INVENTORY OF INCANDESCENT AND HALOGEN BULBS?

Retailers are allowed to sell through their inventory of bulbs manufactured prior to January 1, 2018. To help with enforcement, the California regulations require new bulbs and/or their packaging to include information about the date of manufacture.

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