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By Elisa Wood
March 16, 2011

I have to agree with the Tea Party; the US government should not choose the light bulbs I use in my home.  And fortunately, it does not.

Yet that’s the spin being pushed by those who want to roll back federal lighting performance standards. An odd mythology is developing around the standards.

Opponents claim that the standards amount to government picking and choosing winners and forcing them upon us. More specifically, they say that the feds have banned the incandescent light bulb, which has been around since Thomas Edison’s time.

This is not true; the incandescent light bulb is not being banned; the standards are agnostic about technology type as long as they perform as required. The 2007 law is meant to act as a market mechanism that encourages innovation. With a benchmark to work towards, scientists, engineers and product designers are working to displace older, inefficient devices.  Already several different kind of light bulbs have made their way into the marketplace, including a new and better incandescent.

We have efficiency standards not only for light bulbs, but also for refrigerators, water heaters, air conditioners, microwaves and other appliances. They are nothing new.  Those who see them as government intrusion may be surprised to find that the first US appliance standards were set under Ronald Reagan.

Still one might ask, do we really need appliance standards? Are they worth the bother? That’s a $300 billion question – the amount the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates the US will save on electricity costs by 2030 through existing appliance and lighting standards.

Here are other important points about appliance standards made by Steven Nadel, ACEEE’s executive director, in a testimony on March 10 before the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resource Committee. Nadel urged that Congress reject S. 395, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB), which would repeal lighting standards set in 2007 under the Bush administration.

  • Appliance standards generated 340,000 net jobs in the U.S. in 2010.
  • The majority of the standards are based on consensus agreements between manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates.
  • Four types of bulbs already meet the standards, although the standards do not take effect until 2012. Two are incandescent bulbs.
  • The 2007 lighting standards, alone, are expected to reduce annual electricity use by 72 billion kWh by 2020, enough to serve the annual electricity needs of 6.6 million average households and avoid construction of about 30 power plants.
  • ACEEE forecasts that the lighting standards will reduce consumer energy bills by more than $7 billion by 2020, or about $50 per American household annually.
  • A recent USA Today survey of 1,016 adults found that despite misinformation circulated about a light bulb ban, 61% of Americans favor the 2007 lighting standards, while 31% say they are  bad.


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ReportReport This Post as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Certainly we can all strive for energy efficiency:
But this one keeps coming up,
the notion that
<b>"This is not a ban, energy efficient incandescents like Halogens

Sure it is a ban
- any bulb not meeting allowable standards is banned.

Yes, energy efficient halogen incandescent replacements are allowed, but
still have light type etc differences with regular bulbs, apart from
costing much more for the small savings, which is why neither
consumers or governments really like them, since they have been around
for a while now without being sold much.

LEDs are not yet ready as bright omnidirectional lighting at a good
price - which leaves CFLs:

How manufacturers and vested interests have pushed for this ban,
and lobbied for CFL favors:
<a href="http://ceolas.net/#li1ax">Ceolas.net</a>
with documentation and copies of official communications

All light bulbs have their advantages in different rooms and
situations - none should be banned
unless they are unsafe to actually use:
The "switch all your lights and save lots of money" campaigns are like
saying "Eat only bananas and save lots of money!"
# Posted By peter dublin | 3/17/11 1:03 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Some further points:
A Nielsen poll had the opposite result.
In fairness it depends on how the question asked of course.

The whole relevancy here is of course of WHY people SHOULD be told
what they can buy

1 The society savings aren't there as laid out clearly on the mentioned http://ceolas.net website
USA overall energy savings less than 1% using DOE figures (remember:
their big lighting percentage includes industrial, street etc
non-incandescent lighting)

2. Even if the savings were there:
People pay for the electricity they use, of which there is no shortage
justifying restrictions - and even less foreseeable future shortage,
given the development of a lot of renewable low emission sources etc

3. Even if the savings were there:
There are better ways to save energy, in power plant delivery, grids, etc
- competition, rather then regulation, between suppliers as between
light bulb manufacturers guarantees energy efficiency in their energy
-- and indeed forces manufacturers to supply people with what they
want, which includes
bulbs that can save them money.

"Expensive to buy but cheap in the long run"?
Energizer bunny etc commercials show how such products can
imaginatively be sold.
Manufacturers should get off their backsides and
market their products "If they are so great"as ban proponents say
rather than push for bans on cheap alternatives, to make easy big profits

4. Even if the savings were there:
Other better ways to save energy are to reduce actual waste, whether
in the generation, distribution or consumption of electricity,
eg with lights, how they are left on commercially etc,
and to target relevant greater usage
eg freezer types, and other heavy energy using products in relevant households

5. Even if the savings were there:
Taxation would be more relevant even for ban proponents (tax is wrong
- just better than regulation eg for liberal bankrupt California:)
2 billion US and EU sales of relevant bulbs show massive government
income potential, and can lower tax/subsidize greener bulbs, pay for
home insulation measures etc, overall lowering society energy use more
than the remaining taxed bulbs supposedly raises it, while retaining
consumer choice
As said tax is wrong, but better than banning useful products.

Do bans on bulbs matter?
Some ridicule it,
but people spend half their lives under artificial lights, and they
should have a free choice.

More importantly,
it matters because of the underlying ideology, which is how an
efficient yet creative and free society is developed (Edison would
have been stopped from this invention), better
furthered, in my view, with market competition rather than regulation,
when it comes to the use of safe products: We are not talking about
banning lead paint here...
(and yes it is a ban - see previous comment)

"Obsolescent technology" is safe and known technology, compared to new
complex alternatives:

Yes, we should welcome the New: But it does not necessitate banning the Old.
# Posted By peter dublin | 3/17/11 1:06 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate

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