Posting in Energy
The incandescent light bulb wars fuel up in Congress. Will an attempt to repeal incoming lighting efficiency standards brighten or burn out?
The debate over light bulb efficiency standards continues to burn this week, bringing a common household fixture into the Congressional spotlight. Rallying behind cries of consumer choice infringement and keeping the government out of American homes, House Republicans are reportedly trying to repeal the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Starting this January with the 100-watt bulb, the bill would require new incandescent bulbs to be about 25 percent more efficient than their predecessors.
Conventional incandescents are inefficient light sources because they convert more electricity to heat rather than light, emitting approximately 15 lumens for every watt. The new standards would initially bring bulbs up to 20 lumens per watt. Many halogen incandescents already make the cut and are on shelves, such as GE's A19 halogen. Curly-cue compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) get around 45 lumens per watt, but not everyone likes them or is comfy with the mercury they contain. Good thing there are non-CFL choices as well.
To illuminate the options, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the Energy Savers website on Friday. Chu says the newer class of bulbs, which last longer and incur lower electric bills, could save American households $6 billion annually. In a report released last week, the Natural Resource Defense Council pegs the savings higher at $12.5 billion, once the standards go into full swing in 2020. The environmental group, an outspoken supporter of the legislation, says the resulting decrease in electric demand could slash the need for more than 30 new power plants.
NRDC puts California and Texas, with $1 billion-plus annual savings each, as the biggest beneficiaries of the new lighting regime. Even so, some Texas policymakers are reluctant to unscrew the old standbys.
Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a law last month that would allow the state to produce and sell outmoded light bulbs. But whether these manufacturing dreams are realistic has come into question. The state is apparently low on resources for tungsten, a metal used for making filaments. The future for light-emitting diode tech in the state, however, might be more promising. The Governor's office announced in February a $3 million investment in FireFly LED, an Austin-based company working with the University of Texas to commercialize its bulbs. In a statement at the time, Gov. Perry spoke of fostering an "environment of innovation." Yet his latest move seems to follow a strategy of stagnancy.
The potential repeal this week would need Democratic support in the House and Senate to pass. Should it fail, the feds won't come knocking to look under your lampshades (at least not for light bulbs). The standards apply to manufacturers and wholesalers and wouldn't be the first such efficiency rules for household staples. New Jersey Representative Rush Holt writes:
Congress has required manufacturers to create new, more energy-efficient refrigerators. Yet we haven't heard any calls to revert to turn-of-the-century Model Ts or ice boxes -- technologies that are roughly as old as the conventional light bulb.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Will Texas pardon the incandescent bulb from 'death row'?
- The hot and cold of LED lighting
- How will LEDs affect our museums’ artwork?
- Switch Lighting unveils 100W equivalent LED bulb
Jul 11, 2011
They blew all this time in Washington making it illegal for us to choose what type of light bulbs we're allowed to use and then at the last moment, they change their minds and are going to allow 100 watt bulbs - that we never use since we all know it's 60 watt that fill most of our lamps in our homes. No wonder our nation is a mess. Look at how much time we're spending arguing about this concern that in time would solve itself.
Never have a mass of people ever worked so hard to create a government that the US Constitution was written specifically to prevent. No where in that document does it say that the government has the power to pass laws about light bulbs. If the do gooder attitude continues George Orwell will certainly be smiling in his grave. OH he already is!
The cost of the new "energy efficient bulbs" is much higher. Therefore the customer is paying in advance for the so called savings Let the market decide Keep the incompetent polititians out of it
This legislation has been a US job killer. Plants that made bulbs in the US have been closing and the new jobs are in China. Let the market determine what bulbs we buy, not legislation.
is those few times when I actually want a light bulb to put out lots of heat. I already use energy efficient bulbs for everyday lighting. When my heat goes out, though, I like to run incandescent bulbs 24 hours a day to keep my house from freezing. It has happened a couple of times! Sometimes the "wasteful" heat is desirable.
Until LED's come with a GUARANTEED (we will replace it free w/ s&h included) then the price is more than the $1.57 per year. Too many LED's cost several times the price of an incandescent and I have yet to see one last the estimated 5.5 year lifespan - more reasonable is the 8 month life I am getting from name-brand LED (porch light) that was only used intermittently. The porch light cost about $60, cost VERY little to operate but compared to an incandescent price of two for $3.00 I can much more afford the incandescent bulb. Until this price barrier and reliability problem is overcome I cannot expect LED's to be mainstream (and believe me I would like them to be just for the energy saving factor - just can't afford yearly purchases).
Phasing out the old and inefficient incandescent bulbs would help reduce the energy used to light up an area. The choices are CFL, LED or the more energy efficient halogen bulbs. The halogen bulbs cost about 3 times the cost of ordinary incandescent bulbs but use less energy to provide equivalent light while preserving the bulb format that people want. I find it silly to demand to keep an energy wasting product like the incandescent light bulb while also demanding to drill for more oil. Why not mandate really bad fuel economy for cars and trucks, say less than 15 mph to preserve the freedom for consumers to use more energy at ever increasing prices. Conservation of limited resources including energy is a step to moving towards energy independance. Oil prices are fated to rise as the difficulty in obtaining it increases. Oil prices will increase to the point that the consumers can not afford to buy. With this in mind and listening to people demand to be wasteful because they think that this means freedom will show that it works against our best interests to pretend that energy prices will remain the same forever.
Reminds me of the folks who resisted daylight savings because they didn't want to have someone take that hour away from them. Doubly odd, since if anything, it will hurt the home-grown LED manufacturer.
Besides, like you say, halogen bulbs are now readily available. I noticed them prominently displayed in Target the other day, and for reasonable prices. I didn't buy any because I don't need any right now, but I think that next time I'm in there I'll take a photo, and send it to everyone who sends me email wanting me to sign a petition to keep the incandescents.
When your heat goes out your electricity does not? Have you thought of space heaters? They are actually more efficient heaters than light bulbs, no matter how much heat the bulbs put out.
The problem with LEDs is that it is a low voltage DC device being altered to light up in a 120 vac fixture. LED flashlights work much better than incandescent flashlights and the battery life is longer. LED replacement bulbs have a problem with heat, the voltage conversion is part of it and the other is jamming several LEDs into the standard size bulb as an incandescent bulb replacement. LED lighting would work better if low voltage DC fixtures were developed and made standard.
I priced halogens the other day, and found that while they produce marginally more lumens for the same watts, they cost three times the price and only half again the life. At my local cost for electricity, it will never pay me back for the up-front cost. I was buying bulbs to replace those in my basement, which are turned on for less an a minute at a time on average. I had tried CFLs before, but discovered that little-discussed downside of CFLs: that frequent on-off cycles exhausts the ballast, causing them to burn out FAR sooner than their advertised lifetime - try six months where a vanilla incandescent would last almost two years. Let's see, one quarter the life for five times the price - at what price per KwH does that begin to make sense? I am all for conserving resources, but it's hard when my own resources get squandered in the meantime.
It's really just Perry. He's being an even louder windbag than usual with him testing the waters for a Presidential run. He's such a turd.
Texas has this fight going on where they seem to want to prove themselves to be more "conservative" than any other state. In their case the definition of "conservative" must mean "backwards thinking" or "the old days were awesome". I'm surprised they have water treatment plants rather than preserving the right to haul buckets of water from the well or the creek.
I was born in Texas and am quite happy to live elsewhere. So I do know what you say about Texans being backwards; there are decent folks in Texas but the loud mouths get all the attention.