Technology. It’s ever changing, and constantly making our lives easier and more convenient. So if someone was trying to convince you to use a technology from 1879, you’d probably think twice. Except that’s exactly what some lawmakers in Washington D.C. want you to do – keep using lighting technology, the standard incandescent light bulb, that’s basically the same as when Thomas Edison invented it over 130 years ago.
In 2007, as part of bipartisan energy legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush, Congress established lighting standards that make light bulbs 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2014 and up to 60 percent more efficient by 2020. Because traditional incandescent light bulbs are so inefficient, most old-style incandescent bulbs will be naturally phased out as part of this technology upgrade.
But that doesn’t mean that all incandescents will be off the shelves. Companies have been improving and innovating the light bulb in order to meet the standard and are now offering advanced incadescents, LEDs, compact fluorescents, and other options that all meet the new efficiency standards. What’s more, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and General Electric support the efficiency standards.
The Department of Energy estimates that as a result of more efficient lighting, American households will save more than $50 per year by 2015, even when factoring in increased upfront costs for the new lighting. That’s $6 billion saved by U.S. households every year. The amount of electricity saved is substantial: more than the electricity generated by 30 large power plants according to the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE).
Sounds pretty clean cut, right? Well, some legislators disagree. The Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act (H.R. 2417)—a bill to repeal the efficiency standard signed into law by George W. Bush—was brought to a vote in the House in July. Thankfully, it was defeated, even though five Minnesota representatives (Bachmann, Kline, Peterson, Paulsen and Cravaack) voted for the repeal. The Senate companion, S.F. 395, could come up for a vote this fall.