Lighting has come a long way, and, like so much in the realm of energy and technology, its progress is not above politics.
Standards for more energy-efficient lamps date back to the administration of President George W. Bush, who signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) in 2007. It began the process of phasing out inefficient incandescent lamps.
The Department of Energy (DOE) under the Obama administration adopted additional standards, which the Trump administration later reversed. Now, President Joe Biden wants to get the process back on track.
The DOE has announced initial steps of a rulemaking process that would increase the energy efficiency of general service lamps (GSLs). These include general service incandescent lamps (GSILs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), general service light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lamps and any other lamps that are used to satisfy lighting applications traditionally served by incandescents. GSLs account for most of the installed lighting in the residential sector.
The first step of the rulemaking process is a formal request for information (RFI). It seeks input from manufacturers, retailers, consumers and other stakeholders across the supply chain about the current lighting marketplace. Specifically, the RFI seeks information regarding the availability of GSLs with a 45-lumen-per-watt efficacy standard. DOE will use the feedback received from the RFI to consider the impact on consumers and stakeholders of any implementation of that standard.
According to the DOE, the implementation of a 45-lumen-per-watt efficacy standard could save consumers nearly 30% on their lighting bills by upgrading inefficient lamps with more efficient products, while also reducing emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses.
The DOE notes that government standards have helped lamp efficiency improve dramatically. It notes that common lamps now consume nearly 80% less energy than the traditional incandescent bulbs widely used in 2012 when the first laws went into effect.