The common lightbulb is about to get a lot more efficient in the US


The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that it wants to significantly raise the minimum common lightbulb efficiency level from 45 lumens per watt to over 120 lumens per watt.

The DOE previously banned incandescent bulbs from 2023, and this new rule will accelerate the transition away from compact fluorescent bulbs as well toward LED bulbs, which are more efficient, longer-lasting, and save money. 

The DOE estimates that the new rule would deliver consumer benefits of up to $20 billion and conserve roughly 4 quadrillion British thermal units of energy in the 30 years after its implementation. 

It’s also estimated that in the same timeframe, it would result in cumulative emission reductions of 131 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 903 thousand tons of methane – an amount roughly equal to the electricity use of 29 million homes in one year. 

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said in a statement:

The LEDs on today’s store shelves are a great product, but it turns out the best technology can make the bulbs even more efficient. We use so many light bulbs that this improvement would meaningfully reduce energy costs for households and businesses while cutting climate pollution from power plants.

This plan would also mark the end of an era for compact fluorescent bulbs, which are still sold in some stores today but are inferior to LEDs.

Congress first passed standards to phase out incandescent bulbs during the George W. Bush administration, and those standards were implemented during the Obama administration. The Trump administration reversed the rule in 2019, but the Biden administration reimplemented it and finalized it in April.

The DOE will host a webinar on February 1, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. ET to solicit feedback on its proposed rulemaking. Visit the rulemaking page to find out more.

Read more: Here’s how the US climate act will lower household energy bills

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