Changes in Energy-Efficient Light Bulb Standards

November 15, 2019

The Energy Department recently announced plans to adjust the exemptions outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which would allow light bulb manufacturers to continue to produce certain specialty light bulb types that utilize incandescent methods. This is a reversal of the initial goal of the Bush-era light bulb standards, which outlined a plan to increase the energy efficiency of light bulbs sold on American shelves by 2020. Here is a look at light bulb efficiency standards and what it means for your own home energy-efficient lighting.

Energy Independence & Security Act

The Energy Independence and Security Act gave the Energy Department 13 years to push light bulb manufacturers to achieve an efficiency of 45 lumens per watt. A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb only provides about 14 lumens per watt, so light bulb manufacturers began to move to more efficient lighting methods after the act was signed into law. More efficient, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs started showing up on shelves. As the prices of these efficient bulbs dropped, their popularity with homeowners began to rise. 

The Energy Independence and Security Act wasn’t free of exceptions, though. Specialized bulbs were able to skirt these efficiency standards, including (but not limited to):

  • Three-way bulbs 
  • Shatter-resistant bulbs
  • Floodlights 
  • Candelabra lights
  • Bathroom vanity globes

These exemptions were set to close by the end of 2019, forcing light bulb manufacturers to find energy-saving solutions for these types of bulbs. The Energy Independence and Security Act allotted for two reviews of these exemptions before 2020, and the current administration is using the second of these allowed reviews to keep these exemptions in place


What It Means for Homeowners

In the end, this rollback of lighting efficiency rules will not have a direct effect on the average homeowner. The LED technology is more efficient than most other available lighting methods, coming in at 84 lumens per watt. With bigger box stores now offering LED options at roughly the same price as less efficient light bulbs, only 6% of the basic light bulbs in American homes use traditional incandescent light. These rollbacks allow manufacturers to keep producing outdated technology that increases energy demand, even though consumers are already experiencing the many benefits of LED light bulbs!


Saving Energy with LED Light Bulbs

In an incandescent bulb, light generates by heating a small filament inside the bulb. Because of the fragility of the filament, as well as the glass bulb it is housed in, incandescent bulbs typically only last 1,000 to 2,000 hours before the filament wears out or the glass accidentally shatters. Incandescent bulbs also have high operating costs over 1,000 hours, with an average estimated yearly fee of $4.80.

LED light bulbs, however, have an expected lifespan of 25,000 hours, and will only cost $1.00 per year in electricity costs. That’s a longer-lasting bulb that conserves energy and costs less to operate. For example, if you had 20 light bulb fixtures in your home and updated your incandescent lights to LEDs, you could save around $76.00 a year. That may not sound like much but think of that savings over 5 or 10 years. To get a larger saving, you could update your home lighting to energy-efficient options.


Utilize PACE for Indoor Lighting Updates

Homeowners considering reducing their energy usage at home and spending less on your energy bills, consider updating not only the light bulbs but your lighting fixtures in your home with PACE financing. PACE financing provides homeowners access to 100% of the funds needed for an energy-efficient lighting replacement at a fixed interest rate. PACE payments are then made over multiple years as a line item on a homeowner’s property tax bill, and the interest rate is fixed at a competitive rate with no upfront fees.

The following indoor lighting projects may be eligible for PACE financing, depending on a homeowner’s area:

  • ENERGY STAR-certified or LED indoor lighting fixtures*
  • Lighting control upgrades like dimmers, daylight sensors, and motion sensors

*For homeowners in California, all lighting upgrades must comply with Title 24, and be in the CEC Appliance Efficiency Database.

Did you know that according to energystar.gov, replacing the five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR qualified lights may save $70 a year in energy costs? Or that installing a dimmer switch in combination with dimmable LED bulbs can increase the service life of lightbulbs significantly? 

Get in touch with us today, and see how you may be able to finance the lighting upgrades you need without upfront costs.