The U.S. The Department of Energy announced new regulations to phase out incandescent light bulbs. Production and sales will slow down until the official ban in 2023. From then on manufacturers will have to sell energy-efficient bulbs. These new regulations state that bulbs must produce 45 lumens per watt, the measurement of light produced for a unit of electricity. A typical incandescent light bulb produces about 15 lumens per watt. Meanwhile, LED lighting efficacy can range up to 150 lumens per watt. And according to Mark Lennihan, the regulations will also “expand energy-efficiency requirements to more types of light bulbs.”
The Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
The overall plan is to cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next three decades. In turn, this should save citizens $3 million every year on utility bills, according to the department. Furthermore, good-quality LED light can last about 30,000 to 50,000 hours while incandescent lights last only about 1,000 hours. In other words, LED bulbs can last about 25 to 50 times longer than incandescent lights. In 2020, around 30% of light bulbs sold in the U.S. were incandescent bulbs or halogen incandescent bulbs.
“By raising energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, we’re putting $3 billion back in the pockets of American consumers every year and substantially reducing domestic carbon emissions,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in the statement. “The lighting industry is already embracing more energy efficient products; and this measure will accelerate progress to deliver the best products to American consumers and build a better and brighter future.”
Past congress and presidential administrations pushed for the ban on incandescent lights. However, the Trump administration slowed this regulation, claiming “what’s saved is not worth it”. Meanwhile, LED lighting has increased in sales in the U.S. over the past half a decade. In 2020, about half of households used LED lights for most or all of their outdoor bulbs; but in 2015, this was only 4% of households. The new regulation prohibits the manufacturing or importing of incandescent bulbs by January 1, 2021.
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“A victory for consumers and for the climate”
Responses to this new regulation are mixed. Hiroko Tabuchi from the New York Times stated that light bulb manufacturers moving from incandescent bulbs too quickly can harm their profits and leave already-produced bulbs unused in landfills. Meanwhile, Charlie Harak, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said switching to the new regulation could be difficult for households with financial struggles; they have “on average, disproportionately higher energy burdens.”
However, environmental groups are in favor of the ruling, saying the incandescent bulbs are wasteful and damaging to the environment.
“LEDs have become so inexpensive that there’s no good reason for manufacturers to keep selling 19th-century technology that just isn’t very good at turning electrical energy into light,” said Steven Nadel. He’s the executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “This is a victory for consumers and for the climate — one that’s been a long time coming.” 
Other environmental groups echo a similar sentiment. “We are long overdue to phase out inefficient old-fashioned light bulbs,” said Joe Vukovich, an energy efficiency advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “LED bulbs, which will replace the old incandescents, use one-sixth the amount of energy to deliver the same amount of light and last at least 10 times longer.”
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“LED lighting is ‘an unqualified success’”
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, explained that manufacturers can sell the incandescent bulbs until July 2023; however, “responsible chains ought to get them off their shelves as soon as possible and certainly by the end of this year.”
According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, LED lighting is “spurred by research scientists and lighting manufacturers”. These bulbs have been embraced by consumers and are “an unqualified success.” Additionally, the spokesperson Spencer Pederson stated the association “appreciates the administration’s recognition of the challenges industry faces in complying” with this new regulation and its “adoption of a more manageable compliance timeframe” than earlier proposals. 
Switching one incandescent bulb for an LED can save about $40 to $90 over a decade; this is according to an estimate by the Consumer Federation of American and the National Consumer Law Center. “Using a low estimate of $55 in savings and assuming a household has 45 incandescent bulbs, switching to LEDs translates into $1,000 in net savings over 10 years,” they said in a statement.