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Home / Tips and Tricks / Fight of the bulbs? The Department of Energy is trying to undercut the efficiency standards for lighting

Fight of the bulbs? The Department of Energy is trying to undercut the efficiency standards for lighting


Chris Monroe / CNET

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which set higher energy efficiency standards in the United States. The law included new standards for light bulbs that spur the lighting industry out of the dawning era targeting new technologies such as LEDs that consume significantly less energy.

It worked. As manufacturers adapted to incoming standards, the lighting lanes of hardware stores filled with new LED options, and consumers began to buy them to save energy. National energy consumption due to lighting collapsed ̵

1; in 2018 both the private and the commercial sectors consumed less than half the energy needed to power their luminaires than in 2001.

However, last month the Ministry of Energy under President Donald founded Trump specified these standards in by limiting the types of light bulbs they can apply to. These revised exemptions, which come into effect on 7 October, will protect the sale of certain types of incandescent lamps that would otherwise have come off the market in the coming months due to lack of energy efficiency.

"This action will ensure that the decision of how to light houses and businesses is left to the American people and not to the federal government," a DOE spokesman said in a statement. The move would eliminate a "cost burden for American consumers and businesses".

This is a dispute with pro-efficiency advocates that the White House seeks to undermine bipartisan legislation aimed at tackling climate change and strengthening US energy independence. Sure, it's a shaky fight, but an important one that affects us all. Here is everything you should know.

  Bulb.jpg "height =" 0 "width =" 370 "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/ahGUm97k9fE6NLARMtcXg8XdH5A=/370x0/2016/10/12/fe3dee44-e8f5-485d -ac66-90433c7d8c50 / weissglühbirne.jpg

Incandescent bulbs heat a filament with electricity to the point where it shines and produces light. It is by today's standards a well-known classic, but also an energy eater.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

How did we get here?

First a short background to the development of the law. We started almost 45 years ago when Congress passed the 1975 Energy and Environmental Protection Act, which was legally signed by President Gerald Ford. The US had just gone through a severe oil shortage in 1973, and the bill sought to create a comprehensive federal energy policy to prevent or mitigate future energy crises. This is really the time when the modern concept of "energy independence" has found its legs.

Together with the Strategic Oil Reserve Facility, the Energy Saving Program for Consumer Products has been established, allowing the DOE to develop, revise and implement minimum efficiency standards for consumer appliances, including light bulbs.

A few decades to go until 2007, when Congress passes the Energy Independence and Security Act and President George W. Bush legislates. Among other stated purposes, such as increasing the production of clean, renewable energy, the bill aimed at increasing efficiency standards for public buildings and appliances. In the case of light bulbs, the law provided for an efficiency increase of around 25% which was phased in from 2012 to 2014 . The law demands that even higher efficiency standards come into force next year.

How much higher?

The 2007 law requires energy savings that are at least as high as a minimum efficiency of 45 lumens per watt for the most common types of light bulbs.

For reference, a typical 60-watt incandescent lamp delivers about 15 lumens per watt, if not less. A halogen bulb version of the same bulb works a little better, but is probably not much higher than 20 lumens per watt.

Meanwhile, spiral lamps (CFLs) with about 65 lumens per watt on the market – but best with light emitting diodes or LEDs on the market. They can deliver 80 or even 100 lumens per watt, so they only consume a fraction of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs.

The DOE can set any standards that it considers appropriate under the law to meet this 45 lumens per watt standard. However, if it drags its feet or does not reach this goal, this is a backstop provision to turn on. This setback simply states that the Secretary must prohibit the sale of light bulbs of less than 45 lumens per watt, with effect from 1 January 2020.

In a sense, the Energy Independence and Safety Act gave the DOE 13 years to achieve an efficiency of 45 lumens per watt or better. This deadline is three months.

More LEDs on the market led to a significant decrease in energy consumption.

US Energy Information Administration

Did the law work?

Yes. Manufacturers have put resources into improving LED technology, and new competitor innovation has helped cut costs. As more and more people were shopping, the energy consumption for lighting our homes and businesses declined sharply, especially between 2015 and 2018.

"The 2020 lighting standards are the main reason why we have so many LED options today." says Noah Horowitz, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

A good example is the North Carolina-based lighting manufacturer Cree. When the production and sale of LED household light bulbs started in 2013, it was $ 10 per unit . But today the latest light bulbs cost just under $ 4 each, and others like these are available for even less.

"In 2013, $ 10 was a bargain for an LED light bulb," said Phil Primato, director of consumer retail at Cree. Primato adds that Home Depot's Ecosmart house brand now sells LED lamps for only $ 1, which is the traditional price of incandescent bulbs. "Today, there are LED options that are around this price, if you just want to shop for the price."

But there is more to consider than just the up-front costs of LED bulbs. You should also consider the energy savings.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

For example, a 60 watt replacement LED typically consumes about 10 watts or less and increases the average annual energy bill by $ 1. This light bulb lasts for a decade or more. A 60 watt light bulb, which is just as bright, will raise your annual bill by about $ 7, and you'll need to replace it much sooner. Even if the bulb is free, it will cost you more than a full price LED in just six months.

Mathematics like this combined with reasonable upfront costs is a gain for consumers and the environment, and the 2007 law has led the market to get us there. However, experts say there is still room for progress.

"While LED prices have plummeted, inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs still account for a third or more of new incandescent sales," says Horowitz. "The standards are required to ensure that an energy-saving lamp fits into any of the more than 1 billion versions that still have an inefficient lamp."

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Jane Harman, a former Democratic representative for California, who co-authored light bulb standards in 2007 with Michigan Republican Fred Upton, suggests that the benefits of LED lighting go beyond saving consumer money.

"Electricity saved by efficient light bulbs conserves the climate and also has immense national security benefits," Harman wrote earlier this year in a contribution to The Hill. "The less energy a lightbulb consumes, the less energy a household consumes and the less energy the US consumes overall."

"National security is relevant in that the less energy the US consumes, the less it has to rely on oil." , Gas and coal imports, "Harman added. As the name implies, the Energy Independence and Safety Act should address such issues, and in addition to the economic benefits, the focus on national security has created the space for bipartisan parties consensus. "

So, what's changing?"

Technically speaking, standards are not changing – at least not yet – instead, the DOE is proposing to reduce the number of bulbs that these rising standards will actually apply to. [19659008] Fake and ecosmart-vintage-style-filament-candelabra-LEDs-with-cover-lightbulb.jpg "height =" 0 "width =" 370 "data-original =" https: //cnet3.cbsistatic.com / img / WnRvox5j-hQX2ls53tOuOuxlZH0 = / 370×0 / 2016/03/07 / 0e343b18-5f6d-4211-967f-59a95776d982 / feit-and-ecosmart-vin Day Style Filament Candelabra LEDs with Ge Revelation Bulb.jpg [19659045] Fake-and-ecosmart-vintage-style-filament-candelabrum-LEDs-with-ge-unveiling-bulb.jpg "height =" 0 "width =" 370 “/>

The DOE is about to throw things like floodlights, Extracting cosmetic balls and candelabra lamps from the new efficiency standards Under President Barack Obama, the DOE ended these exemptions in 2017, citing di e Availability of energy-efficient options such as the Feit and EcoSmart candelabra LEDs on the left and right sides.

Chris Monroe / CNET

When the Act on Energy Independence and Security of Energy entered into force for the first time, the increasing standards were applied to "general service lights", a broad industry term that refers to commonly used household incandescent bulbs. This category includes compact fluorescent lamps, LED lamps and conventional incandescent lamps. Excepted from the new standards, however, were certain specialized light bulbs, including three-way lamps, unbreakable light bulbs and differently shaped light bulbs such as floodlights candelabra lamps and bathroom cosmetic balls .

The Energy Independence and Security Act ordered the DOE to review these exceptions twice before 2020 to determine if they are still needed. Towards the end of the Obama administration, that was done by the DOE. Ultimately, it was decided that many of these exceptions could reasonably be lifted without unduly burdening the industry. Thus, the rising standards would apply to them from 1 January 2020.

Now, the DOE under President Trump uses the mandate for a second review of these exceptions to basically reverse the Obama era decision.

How does it work?

First of all, you will not notice any changes in energy rates or the price of light bulbs. The demand for LEDs continues to grow and the industry will continue to move in that direction.

The reinstatement of these exceptions and the withdrawal of these lamps from the equation is nevertheless a significant reversal. According to a 2017 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report, recessed bulbs such as these have a nationwide installed stock that is about 80% larger than regular non-recessed incandescent bulbs.

"They offer disproportionate potential for energy savings, as the vast majority of them are currently incandescent or incandescent," the authors said. When using light bulbs like the Energy Independence and Security Act backstop standards, carbon dioxide emissions would decrease by an estimated 540 million tonnes by 2030 and energy savings would increase by 35% over the US total energy consumption in 2016.

The derogation for these bulbs could also affect progress in other, not excluded categories. Proponents of efficiency point out that some manufacturers have used the derogations for harsh industrial and break-proof bulbs to make and market bulbs for gaps. Such lamps are usually just ordinary, inefficient bulbs with a special coating on the glass that makes them last longer – and thanks to the exception, they can also dodge this backstop.

"These gap lamps are particularly bad for consumers," say the critics, pointing out that a 75 watt replacement low-power lamp would increase a consumer's energy costs by more than 250% compared to a halogen lamp compliant with standards. "Do that more than 600% compared to an LED."

Nevertheless, the buying habits of light bulbs are often based on familiarity.When ordinary light bulbs disappeared from the shelves, sales for these similar gap lamps increased from 914,000 in 2011 to more than 7 million in 2015. According to the backstopping scheme, which according to the proponents of efficiency had already been triggered, the DOE would have recorded an increase committed to ban the sale of light bulbs like the one from January onwards.Now the DOE wants them back from It also argues that the backstop was not triggered at all.

The backstop provision at the end of this section of EISA is at the heart of the conflict, writing a minimum efficiency of 45 lumens per watt for all by law from 1 January 2020.

Cornell Law

Is the backstop triggered or not?

Imagine the backstop regulation in the Energy Independence and Safety Act as an efficiency safety net. It is a legal layer to prevent the DOE from falling back on standards less efficient than those agreed in 2007. The question of whether this backstop has already been triggered or not, is controversial.

There are a few specific things that can trigger it. First, the law has set a deadline of 2014 to assess whether standards can be raised and exceptions lifted. If this deadline is not met, the backstop is triggered. The same applies if the DOE would change the standards for incandescent lamps without adopting a definitive regulation by 2017.

And as mentioned earlier, the efforts of the DOE must result in energy savings at least as high as those of the backstop. Otherwise, it will be a breeze to bring us to guaranteed 45 lumens per watt on January 1, 2020.

Critics of the DOE claimed that it had not met the deadlines of 2014 and 2017 and thus triggered the backstop. The DOE rejected the argument for the latter, pointing out that it had never decided whether or not to change the standards for incandescent lamps, and was therefore not required to take a decision on this matter.

Regarding the 2014 deadline for the evaluation of the overall standards and the re-examination of the exemptions, the DOE states that it issued its statement in 2017 only since a budget law of 2014 blocked this from implementation or enforcement of standards for light bulbs, but that the process had already begun.

"DOE initiated the first regulatory process for general lighting by publishing a notice on the availability of a framework document in December 2013," wrote the DOE last February. In the opinion of the DOE, this is in line with the requirement of the 2007 law that "the secretary must initiate a regulatory procedure no later than 1 January 2014", in which the standards and exceptions for light bulbs are re-evaluated.

So, if not the backstop standard, what then? The DOE has not offered any alternatives yet, but its most recent submission states that it has no plans to change the specific standards for incandescent bulbs and that it plans to make a separate determination on what to do with overall household standards Light bulbs.

"The legal issues surrounding the lamp standards are quite complex," Horowitz admits. "It's also quite a scratch that we're only a few months away from January 1, 2020 and DOE has not completed its work yet."

What about the lighting industry?

"It is important to note that this was not 'rollback'," says Tracy Cullen, spokeswoman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. With a board of governors that includes senior executives From mainstay photographers such as Lutron, Leviton, and Philips Lighting, its parent company, Signify, the trade organization expressed its support for the DOE's attempt to narrow the scope of the rising standards, claiming that none specific standards have actually changed.

  Halogens in the shape of a conventional light bulb can be about 20 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. "height =" 0 "width =" 370 "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/JARN8-MmWtDslC9WQ4QISKmnunc=/370x0/2011/02/14/f4f27520-f0f6-11e2-8c7c-d4ae52e62bcc / GE_halogen_group_a.jpg

A series of GE halogen bulbs that envelop the filament with gases that help recycle the tungsten for a modestly efficient bulge.

GE Lighting

"The significance of these facts is that DOE denies any rollback of standards or relapse in any way because there are no standards from which to roll back," Cullen told CNET.

Many in the lighting industry – especially manufacturers such as Signify, Ledvance and GE Lighting, who continue to manufacture and sell incandescent lamps – seem to be spinning the cars around that position.

"Signify supports the transition to energy-efficient LED and networked LED lighting, and in fact, we are driving this transition forward with our innovations," says a Signify spokesman. "We support DOE rules that allow for a proper exit from older technologies when necessary and applicable (which means the measure will produce the desired result)."

"The US Department of Energy announcements are in line with the Congress's intentions in 2007 when it passed the Energy Independence and Security Act," said Jennifer R. Dolin, Ledvance's government affairs and sustainability director, Brand Lights Osram and Sylvania manufactures. "The future of lighting is LED technology, as evidenced by the decline in sales of halogen and CFL bulbs, and no additional standards are needed to make up for an ongoing transformation."

GE Lighting declined to comment on this story.

One exception to the car's circle is Cree, who only produces LEDs and does not bother with bulbs at all.

"The rest of the industry has been in conflict for the most part," says Crees Primato. "They still produce and sell many of the previous generation's products.

" I do not really see that our behavior or the behavior of retailers or consumers changes dramatically, regardless of the legislation or anything the administration does Continue to say about light bulbs, "Primato says, referring to President Trump's recent remarks that he blames energy-efficient light bulbs on his skin tone.

" I'm not sure if a light source is necessarily responsible for the President's tone is. Primato says.

So, what happens next?

According to DOE, the re-enforced exceptions will take effect next week on October 7. After that, the next step will be a public meeting on October 15 where the DOE will take place Meanwhile, advocates of efficiency have told the CNET that they will continue to fight to comply with the Energy Independence and Security Act standards.

DOE misunderstood the law, "says Noah Horowitz of the NRDC. "The NRDC will continue to oppose the unit's unlawful rollbacks on any occasion, including litigation."

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