Personal Choice and Freedom Unaffected by Federal Lighting Standard

bulb-choiceThis blog was written by SACE intern Rachel Mountain and Natalie Mims.

Beginning January 1, 2012, the federal government is implementing a lighting standard that requires incandescent bulbs to be at least 30% more efficient, resulting in a $7 billion reduction in consumer energy bills by 2020. Further, the lighting efficiency standard will reduce energy consumption by 72 billion kWh by 2020, which is enough to displace approximately 30 power plants.

This lighting standard was one piece of the Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 (EISA). Some politicians say that this lighting efficiency standard retracts personal freedom and limits consumer choice. These self-proclaimed consumer advocates believe “less is more” in regards to government involvement, specifically for residential lighting. And they are right. The less product standards we have for lighting, the more electricity and money we waste.

U.S. House Representatives Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming are among those who oppose lighting standards. They believe the standards remove consumers’ personal choice and freedom. However, nearly all human activities are regulated by standards – food safety, drug safety, hospital practices – all of which make our society safer, cheaper, and cleaner.

Right here in the Southeast, South Carolina State Representatives Bill Sandifer and Dwight Loftis have introduced a bill to manufacture and sell inefficient bulbs that do not meet the federal lighting efficiency standard in South Carolina. While these representatives claim to be looking out for consumers’ best interest, repealing the federal lighting standard simply does not achieve that goal. Instead of providing consumers with more lighting choices, lower electricity bills and reduced reliance on risky electricity sources, politicians are supporting a stagnant status quo.

Choices Remainblack-bulbs

Representative Sandifer was quoted as saying, “There are a huge number of people who do not like the CFLs, the fluorescent light bulbs, and they want to have a viable alternative.” It seems that some politicians do not understand the federal lighting standard. EISA does not ban incandescent bulbs, but it does place energy efficiency standards on them. In fact, the incandescent bulb will still be an option for consumers, but will be more efficient and add to electric bill savings – just as new dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators, and many other energy consuming devices that have federal efficiency standards have done.

CFLs are only one of four light bulb technologies (“available in a store near you”) that meet the EISA lighting standards. Two of the four are incandescent, providing great alternatives for those who prefer to use traditional light bulbs. The vice president of Philips Electronics, Randy Moorhead, says in anticipation of the new standards, companies like his have started selling new incandescent bulbs that comply with the law. Acuity Brand Lighting, for example, is committed to 100% compliance with federal and state legislation. Since January 1, 2009, all of their applicable products manufactured and sold in the United States meet EISA lighting requirements. Additionally, LED lighting manufacturers in the Southeast such as Cree Inc. in North Carolina and Boca Flasher in Florida are providing even more money-saving options for consumers. While the South Carolina law seeks to link light bulb manufacturers to the desire to maintain inefficient products in the marketplace, in fact, manufacturers support the EISA lighting standards.

American Jobsamerican-jobs

Conservative news sources focus on incandescent factories in the United States that are shutting down and moving overseas, but fail to note that existing manufacturing facilities are also making the new, efficient bulbs, keeping jobs in the U.S. In response to the impending lighting standards, Philips Lighting Company has already introduced infrared technology, creating  jobs across America. Collectively, the National Appliance Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA), EPA Acts of 1992 and 1995, and the EISA have created about 340,000 jobs in 2010 alone.

Saving Consumers Money

We have all burned ourselves on a hot light bulb. That heat makes up about 90% of the energy usage of a traditional light bulb, which also means that 90% of the money we spend on lighting is not actually spent on keeping the lights on. It is spent on unwanted heat from light bulbs. The EISA lighting standard will increase the amount of light that is created from a bulb, while using the same amount of energy, which translates to saved money. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that the 2007 EISA lighting standards alone will account for a reduction in consumer energy bills by more than $7 billion by 2020. All residential appliances meeting minimum efficiency standards created by the NAECA and its updates will amount to approximately $124 billion in net savings by 2030.

Efficiency standards have had a long history of successful implementation, and we should continue to enact more product standards to help consumers. Supporting EISA’s lighting efficiency standards is a step towards saving money and energy, while providing consumers with a variety of lighting options. Consumers will reap economic and monetary benefits, as well as promote innovation and new markets. Lighting efficiency standards are not an issue of government control, but a move towards a more energy efficient economy and a ‘brighter,’ more sustainable future.

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18 Comments

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Try to understand this IS a de facto ban. It’s a restriction of the sale of a product based on arbitrary standards, if that product can’t meet those standards, it cannot be sold. Period. In 2020, a new set of standards come in that basically completely ban 90% of incandescents because of limits of the technology.

Conservative news sources focus on incandescent factories in the United States that are shutting down and moving overseas, but fail to note that existing manufacturing facilities are also making the new, efficient bulbs,

^ Only ONE company is, Sylvania. Four companies have shut down so far in the US and a light bulb company in South Carolina is struggling.The infared reference has nothing to do with lighting.
The EISA lighting standard will increase the amount of light that is created from a bulb, while using the same amount of energy, which translates to saved money.

^But it has not. Lighting manufacturers in Europe were caught lying about the amount of lumens on each bulb. Most CFL’s run about 25% less light than a comparable incandescent and with horrible CRI. Another issue is that the bulbs are not lasting as long as intended. Some are not making it past one month if that. High replacement cost +early death equal no saving.

There’s hundreds of reports of this. Some are not making past one month
These light

These


Comment by Paladin on April 20, 2011 6:48 am


Paladin,
I wanted to quickly address your first point, “Try to understand this IS a de facto ban. It’s a restriction of the sale of a product based on arbitrary standards, if that product can’t meet those standards, it cannot be sold.”

While the idea of altering Thomas Edison’s original incandescent is unpatriotic to some, the federal government has been enacting energy efficiency standards for several decades as way to conserve energy and save money. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) was the first piece of legislation that established an energy conservation program for major residential appliances, followed by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) in 1987 which set the first national minimum efficiency standards for clothes washers and dryers, fluorescent lamp ballasts and incandescent reflector lamps, among several other products. Since then, the Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 1995 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 have all established additional energy standards, each of which promotes innovative technologies that provide lower operating costs.

Because of energy standards, replacing inefficient dishwashers, air conditioners, water heaters, and lighting appliances with new efficient appliances may allow for significant savings on consumers’ electric bills. For example, modern refrigerators use 75% less energy than refrigerators from the 1970’s. By replacing a 1980 refrigerator with one that meets federal standards, consumers save approximately $100 on their energy bill each year. Clothes washers meeting minimum standards save up to $110 on energy bills each year compared to pre-1994 models.

So, standards have been a tool to promote innovation, and save consumers money for several decades. Additionally, standards have historically resulted in devices that consume less energy, cost less and provide the same services.


Comment by Natalie Mims on April 20, 2011 9:57 am


The less product standards we have for lighting, the more electricity and money we waste.

Sums it up really, The world needs to pust green energy and energy saving devices.


Comment by Conor on April 22, 2011 12:01 am


“In 2020, a new set of standards come in that basically completely ban 90% of incandescents because of limits of the technology”

Well thats not really true. In fact, even after 2020, the same incandescent bulbs that are exempt from the ban (anything under 40watts, greater than 100 watts, flood lights, colored bulbs, 3way, specialty lighting, rough service lights) are still gona be around after 2020. However, i read somewhere that they may change the exempt as far as the “3 WAY BULB” is concerned. Besides that, many incandescents will continue to be available. Halogen bulbs are also another alternative for the incandescent technology.


Comment by Mike on April 22, 2011 4:52 pm


Mike,

There’s provisions in EISA that state that if sales of some of the exempted bulbs go up in tandem with the bans, they will be included. This includes rough service and three way. The 2020 standards bring in PAR/Reflector bulbs and high wattage bulbs.

Some of us have been watching this very carefully.

Natalie,

I don’t care about altering light bulbs. While I do care about is that a safe, effective product being banned for no logical reason except for pure corporate greed and in the name of bad science. Plus these bulbs MUST be recycled and at this time, there is no realistic, large scale recycling program in place.

On the other hand, while I do think that there is legitimate safety concerns with these bulbs in terms of end of life and accidental misuse (they can start fires if the wrong bulb is used in dimmer circuits) and UV radiation because of the proximity of the bulb in relation to the person when reading, etc, the latest report about them releasing cancer causing chemicals while in operation is probably hogwash.

While I agree with you that setting standards can help, what you don’t realize is something called “limits of the technology”. For instance, washing machines, there’s hundreds of complaints about front loading washing machines and mold because they don’t use enough water to fully rinse both the clothes and drums. Energy efficient dryers can take up to three times as long to dry clothes and some are set to stop before the clothes are completely dry. Our two year old electric Whirlpool duet dryer takes 2.5 hours to dry a load of towels, it’s been like this since it was new, and it sometimes it takes two runs and they smell musty no matter what we do. After getting fed up one afternoon and taking the towels to a laundrymat with gas fired dryers, one hour and completely dry. It was night and day. There’s nothing wrong with the Whirlpool, it’s because it’s rated for energy efficiency, and the performance standards are lower. So you tell me which is actually costing more? The dryer that runs forever (and yes, this dryer has a high heat setting that does little) or the gas fired dryer that actually heats for maybe 3/4 of the one hour cycle for the towels?


Comment by Paladin on April 26, 2011 9:43 am


Quick addition to my above post.
Everything that we have seen so far from the Green movement has cost more, with poorer performance, with a WORSE impact on the environment, such has batteries for electric vehicles, CFL’s or removing phosphorous from dishwashing soap when the real culprit was runoff from fertilizing and other sources. The end result for that one was dishes not getting clean, and as a boon to the dishwasher manufacturers, people were replacing dishwashers because they were blaming the machines themselves. My roommate uses eco friendly cleaners, the expensive ones, and they are completely worthless, with constantly sticky countertops, and coatings of grease in the sinks and stove. I have to go back once a week with bleach and Comet just to get the kitchen usable again.

It’s all about “feel good” legislation and doing something without actually doing anything.
Also, GM had a fully operational electric car about ten years ago, but they killed it for no logical reason. Try sorting that one out.


Comment by Paladin on April 26, 2011 10:00 am


@NATALIE,

Yes, i also read somewhere about the 3way bulb and the rough service lights that might be included in the ban but that probably wouldnt happen AT LEAST until after 2020. I dont understand why they keep saying that they’re banning incandescents. The US is not banning incandescents, they’re only making new laws for efficient lighting and there are incandescents that meet the energy efficiency standard. So I’m glad that we will still have incandescents. (Bulbs under 40watts, over 100watts, colored, flood light versions, 3way, rough service, appliance lighting and specialty lights such as the candle shaped bulbs and globe versions that are used for bathrooms will always be available.) Also, Halogen bulbs are already efficient enough to stay on the market and their light quality looks exactly like the incandescents of today. After 2020, there will be a new set of efficiency standards. the exempted bulbs that MIGHT get banned is the 3way and rough service lighting. All other bulbs such as (Flood light versions, colored, specialty bulbs and appliance bulbs) will still be available. Unless they improve on the light quality of CFLs , the ppl who make them bulbs will go out of business because their light quality is horrible, they dont last as long as ppl say they do, and even if they last for years, they dim after a while. They also don’t save u much when u consider all the other electrical things we use in our homes. So clearly, you can’t just depend on an energy saving bulb to save u energy. Some ppl say that incandescents are a waste, but a lot of it also has to do with ppl leaving their lights on when leaving their room. That wastes energy. Solution is simple, turn off your lights when leaving the room.f


Comment by Mike on April 26, 2011 9:02 pm


The United States would be much better off with more freedom and less government. This is what happens when we elect liberals and these greenie terrorists into office. They simply wana turn the US into a Nanny country. The solution is very simple. Let ppl buy what they want but dont restrict choices. CFLs are being sold everywhere and many people are not buying them simply because they dont like them. Government and their other green family members need to stop meddling in other ppls lives. if cfls were really that great like they claim that it is, people will buy them. shoving products down consumers throats and restricting choice is not the answer. some ppl say that CFLs have warm light. Who ever thinks CFLs have warm light quality needs to get their eyes checked. the only way i’l stop using incandescents is if i get arrested by the light bulb police.


Comment by Mike on April 26, 2011 9:08 pm


@Mike

This is from the DOE, and states that any bulb that does not meet the requirements cannot be sold.

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/pdfs/lighting_legislation_fact_sheet_03_13_08.pdf

This effects me because I have several antique school lights that I restored that use commercial/industrial 300 watt silver bowl incandescents. These bulbs are still considered GSL (General Service Lamps) and this 2020 ruling prohibits these from being sold.


Comment by Paladin on April 26, 2011 10:58 pm


DOH!

*affects me


Comment by Paladin on April 26, 2011 11:01 pm


Paladin,
While your comments regarding the intent of the federal lighting standard are speculation, your other comments regarding the federal lighting standard seem to fall into three categories: safety, technology limits and impact of the federal lighting standard.

1) Safety and the appropriate disposal of lamps that contain mercury
There are several types of bulbs that contain very small amounts of mercury. I would like to put the amount of mercury contained in CFLs in perspective. As one of my colleagues recently wrote, Georgia Power’s Plan Scherer is the largest coal plant in the southeast, and produced over 24,000 GWh of electricity in 2009. In 2009 Plant Scherer emitted nearly 900 pounds of mercury (it has emitted almost twice that in other years).

According to the EPA, CFLs contain 4 milligrams of mercury. The amount of mercury emitted from Plant Scherer, in 2009, is the equivalent of the amount of mercury in 100 million CFLs.

Aside from that context, in 2008, Home Depot launched a national, in store consumer CFL recycling program at all 1,973 Home Depot locations. I would consider that to be a decent start to the “realistic, large scale recycling program” that you assert does not exist. Also, there are utility run recycling programs in Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washing, Oregon, Florida, California and Minnesota.

2) Limits to Technology
In your argument that there are limits to lighting technology, you focus on a washing machine. Concepts such as Moore’s Law and publications such as Richard Foster’s Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage present a much more comprehensive and compelling argument regarding the limits to technology. The federal lighting standard established in EISA requires that a range of lumens per watt remain constant, and consume less energy. That is not a limit to technology. It is encouraging innovation and, it is also energy efficiency: receiving the same service while consuming less energy.

3) The federal lighting standard is a “feel good law”
I am going to refer to two facts from the blog: 1) ACEEE estimates that the 2007 EISA lighting standards alone will account for a reduction in consumer energy bills of more than $7 billion by 2020. 2) The federal lighting standard will reduce energy consumption by 72 billion kWh by 2020 (links to the sources are in the blog, above).

Typically, the term “feel good law” is reserved for laws that don’t achieve anything. I think most people would agree that $7 billion in consumer savings and 72 billion kWh in energy savings is a real win.


Comment by Natalie Mims on April 27, 2011 9:37 am


@Natalie,

The world does not need to push for less standard devices. 1st of all, i am the guy paying for my light bill, so i will decide how much energy i can “waste”. I dont need a bunch of moron tree huggers dictating to me how much energy i can use or not. light bulbs have been around for over 100 years so why are ppl all of a sudden complaining about them now? there are ppl like me who can afford to use incandescents, despite of how much more it will cost me. I dont leave the lights on often in the summertime because they light bulbs do give off heat, but in the winter, the extra heat is welcomed and incandescents give off way better light than a cfls. i’m not going to make my home looking like the inside of a dirty gas station bathroom. i am proud of my home and i will continue to use incandescents until i die.


Comment by Alex on April 27, 2011 9:01 pm


There are several types of bulbs that contain very small amounts of mercury. I would like to put the amount of mercury contained in CFLs in perspective.

^125 CFL’s contain the equivalent of ONE old style thermometer, which are being banned. Taking into consideration that these bulbs will not be recycled, and that if three houses with 30-40 sockets each do not recycle, that 125 will be blown through very quickly. These bulbs are being banned from landfills and some recyclers will not take them. This leaves no other option but landfills, also, rural areas that do not have access to a major box store, such as Home Depot, etc. This bulb is going to be tossed into a trash heap, or worse yet, burned. In Central Texas alone, thousands of residents live more than 50-60 miles from a Home Depot. (Look up Hill Country) In West Texas, it’s closer to 90 miles. Municipalities that take these bulbs are the exception, not the rule and many are banning them from landfills. My parents own a tanning salon, and we are required by law to recycle the tanning bulbs. However, these recyclers WILL NOT take CFL’s.
According to the EPA, CFLs contain 4 milligrams of mercury. The amount of mercury emitted from Plant Scherer, in 2009, is the equivalent of the amount of mercury in 400 million CFLs.
^you just negated your argument. If CFL’s are not recycled, and when usage becomes more widespread, they are going into the landfill. You really need to understand about human nature, they are going to what’s easiest and what they are used to. See my note above about the amount of mercury.

As one of my colleagues recently wrote, Georgia Power’s Plan Scherer is the largest coal plant in the southeast, and produced over 24,000 GWh of electricity in 2009. In 2009 Plant Scherer emitted nearly 900 pounds of mercury (it has emitted almost twice that in other years).
^you are missing something very basic. (and why are they not using scrubbers?) Lighting is used mostly during the off peak hours, when the power gens are ramped down. Lighting makes up less than 6% of the entire load on the grid. In Central Texas we had rolling blackouts during a severe cold spell because of electric heating. Light bulbs are nothing compared to the load of HVAC/Cooking/water heating/drying clothes and large industrial complexes.

(that) will account for a reduction in consumer energy bills of more than $7 billion…
^So? I’ve heard this so many times. It seems to be one of the main selling points that keeps getting pounded into our heads but why are incans still outselling CFL’s?
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/as-cfl-sales-fall-more-incentives-urged/

I would gladly pay for higher quality light. Another issue is longetivity, these bulbs are not lasting as long. High replacement cost +shortened life= no savings.

The federal lighting standard established in EISA requires that a range of lumens per watt remain constant, and consume less energy. That is a limit to technology. It is encouraging innovation and, it is also energy efficiency: receiving the same service while consuming less energy.
^This comment makes no sense. The way it’s written, you are saying that the restriction is the limit to technology. I used the washing machine as a example. The base issue is the same. 45 lumens per watt cannot be reached by any form of incandescent technology. You reach the limit of what the materials that make up the bulb can do. Vacuum tubes are the same principal, they are rated for a certain voltage and current, if a tube is forced into thermal runaway by overcurrent/overvoltage, it self-destructs. The limit of the tube was reached, and the tube melts down.


Comment by Paladin on April 27, 2011 10:56 pm


@Alex: the federal government has standards for variety of things that you may also choose to buy and waste, for example food. Fortunately, since the federal government is not banning incandescent bulbs, you will be able to continue using more efficient versions of them for years to come. I encourage you to explore other alternative lighting technologies as they emerge, so you are not left in the dark if, in the future, incandescent bulbs do not meet federal lighting standards.

@Paladin:
Mercury emissions from coal fired power plants dwarf the amount of mercury in CFLs. In the southeast alone, in 2009, coal fired power emitted almost 11,000 pounds of mercury. That’s about 5 billion milligrams of mercury, or 1.2 billion CFLs. Annually.

For both Paladin and Alex: You both seem to believe that if CFLs had value, people would purchase them. The 2009 EIA REC survey found that 68 million out of the 113 million households in the United States purchase efficient light bulbs, so people are buying them! As to the larger issue of why people don’t make decisions that maximize their financial gain, their are loads of literature on this topic. I suggest Eto’s “Market Barriers to Energy Efficiency: A Critical Reappraisal of the Rationale for Public Policies to Promote Energy Efficiency.”


Comment by Natalie Mims on April 28, 2011 4:53 pm


Natalie,

Halogens run too hot for most fixtures, I am discounting them for the moment.

If this isn’t a ban, excluding Halogens, because again, they run 1.5 times hotter than regular incans and can’t be used in some enclosed fixtures, I won’t be able to buy 100 watt light bulbs once stock is gone after Jan 1, 2012?

Also, for the third time, please read more carefully that link I posted earlier. By 2020, all GENERAL PURPOSE BULBS, including Halogens, must reach a certain level of efficiency. If they dont they can’t be sold.


Comment by Paladin on April 28, 2011 5:17 pm


Paladin,
The federal lighting standard is quite straightforward: you will always be able to purchase a lamp that emits between 1490 and 2600 lumens. This lamp will consume less than 100 watts after 2012.


Comment by Natalie Mims on April 29, 2011 1:54 pm


Natalie,
CFLs, according the package, can’t be used in enclosed fixtures, base-up, ceiling fans (vibration), in bathrooms with moisture, in high on/off cycle circuits (which kills them faster), in outdoor security fixtures on timers, and my case, vintage light fixtures because they are too big or for which there is no replacement, such as the 300 watt school lamp. They also have a tendency to cause the transformer based speed controls on my 75 year old ceiling fans to over heat. They also can’t be used in cold weather and if the wrong bulb is used in a dimmer circuit, they can start fires.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeff-poor/2009/03/31/eco-friendly-endorsed-media-cfls-responsible-house-fire-maryland

If they are used outside, they must be enclosed or at least sheltered or they also start house fires-
http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/the_cfl_fraud.htm

I’ve already talked about the lumens issue in an earlier post.


Comment by Paladin on April 29, 2011 2:17 pm


If there are incandescent bulbs that will be available, then i dont understand why they keep saying they’re gona ban them. All there doing is building efficiency into them.

@Palidan
I have a couple of comments to make as far as the 2nd efficiency standards they placed in 2020. I just got off the phone with a couple of ppl who works for GE and they told me 2 things. As far as the Halogen bulb, theres very little chance that they will be phased out because they’re currently building more effiency into them then they have now.
The one thing i must correct u on is the ROUGH SERVICE LIGHTS. i was informed that those bulbs will NOT be banned even after 2020. Rough service lighting is used in places such as resturants and movie thearters. CFLs will not work in those fixtures that they use. So rough service bulbs will ALWAYS be around.


Comment by Hector on April 29, 2011 4:48 pm


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