Lighting Legislation Update

In 2007, when the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was signed into law it resulted in the Department of Energy (DOE) issuing new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Although you may not have noticed, since 2012 (or 2011 if you live in California) the DOE has been progressively phasing out some of the most energy wasting light bulbs on the market. Now, to adhere to the new standards, bulbs must meet a minimum Lumen perWatt (LPW) requirement, and, between 2012 and 2014, standard 40- and 100-watt bulbs must use 30% less energy.

So, what do these changes mean for you? Here’s what you need to know about the lighting legislation…

What to know about lightbulb legislation

The Legislation Timeline

  • 2012 – 100-watt phase out
  • 2013 – 75-watt phase out
  • 2014 – 40-watt and 60-watt phase out

Of course, the above timeline is somewhat simplified, as things are never quite so cut-and-dry when dealing with governmental legislation. In reality, there are some exceptions and variations to which bulbs are included, but the important thing to pay attention to is lumens, since that is what the DOE is most concerned with (even if they express it in watts).

With that in mind, here are the lumens, watts, and minimum hour standards set forth for the next couple years:

  • 2012 – Bulbs should have lumen range of 1490-2600, with maximum of 72-watts, and 1000 minimum hours.
  • 2013 – Bulbs should have lumen range of 1050-1489, with maximum of 53-watts, and 1000 minimum hours.
  • 2014 – Bulbs should have lumen range of 750-1049, with maximum of 43-watts, and 1000 minimum hours.
  • Late 2014 – Bulbs should have lumen range of 310-749, with maximum of 29-watts, and 1000 minimum hours.

What You Need to Do

The good news is you don’t have to throw out any of your existing bulbs; although, you may notice certain bulbs are no longer available in stores and from suppliers, as manufacturers are forced to remove them from production.

That said, you likely won’t feel the full effect of the lighting legislation for a while, since commercial lamps generally have relatively low lumens. However, by 2014 common commercial lamps will fall under regulations, and you may have to make new product selections.

Moving Forward

What to know about lightbulb legislation

While there is a range of setups and specialty bulbs that aren’t included in the legislation, in the future your best option is to choose from more efficient technology, such as LED, CFL, and energy saving halogen. Many of these bulbs use less energy put produce similar amounts of light.

  • LED – LEDs are a rapidly growing technology which use as much as 90% less energy and have long lifespans (25,000-50,000 hours)
  • CFL – These are a common replacement option, as they use around 75% less energy, are cost-effective, and have long lives. Newer versions are dimmable and light instantly.
  • Halogen – Halogen lamps with new gas mixtures that meet DOE standards are available. However, they have shorter lifespans than current technology.

Understanding Lumens

The DOE is pushing for consumers to pay more attention to lumens (brightness), since they have a direct connection on energy use. So, part of the legislation includes requiring manufacturers to print a “Lighting Facts” label on all their products, which clearly details lumen and energy-cost information.

If you’re unclear about lumens, basically they designate the brightness of the light. Many people think watts represent light levels, but watts are actually an indicator of energy. When you look at lumens and watts together, (lumens perWatt, or LPW) you can determine how many lumens of light you get from a bulb compared to its required energy (watts). Therefore, bulbs with the greatest lumens per single watt are most efficient.

As you make your lighting purchases in the upcoming years, you should see a larger assortment of light bulbs with larger lumens per watts ratios. Although change is often hard to embrace, this move to more efficient lighting should help save you money and protect the environment – a win-win. In fact, it’s predicted that as Americans make the switch to efficient lighting the country will save $40 billion in energy costs over the next 20 years.


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