During Wednesday’s town hall on the climate crisis, 10 Democratic presidential candidates discussed issues of fossil fuels, fracking, carbon taxes, electric vehicles—and lightbulbs. Earlier that day, the Trump Administration had rolled back rules that set new energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs in the U.S.; these standards would have helped save on energy costs for consumers and reduce carbon emissions.
But what exactly is happening? And how can consumers make wise buying decisions for the environment?
The Trump Administration rolled back Obama-era regulations which would have required four categories of lightbulbs—including those used in chandeliers, recessed lighting, bathroom fixtures, and track lighting—to meet existing energy-efficiency standards, beginning in January 2020. (Also, the Department of Energy would have looked into better efficiency standards for pear-shaped bulbs in 2020.) The regulations themselves are extensions of George W. Bush’s 2007 law to phase out energy-inefficient bulbs, like traditional halogen and incandescent options.
In other words, the Department of Energy will allow the continued sale of such energy-inefficient bulbs through 2020 (and with no end date in sight). As Bloomberg reported, such standards impact an estimated half of all six billion lightbulbs in use in the U.S. “Together, these bulb actions could cost the average U.S. household more than $100 per year, adding $14 billion to Americans’ annual energy bills as of 2025, and require at least 25 power plants’ worth of extra electricity annually,” the Natural Resources Defense Council writes on its website, in response to the rollback.
President Trump disagrees, despite statements on the Department of Energy’s own website that energy-efficient light bulbs cost less to operate and require less replacing overall. “What’s saved is not worth it,” President Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “For the little they save, and what people were going through, it is not worth it. And price was another thing.”
Several major bulb-making companies are probably very content with the decision; as the NRDC points out, companies like GE, Silvana, and Philips, have supported the rollback.
What can I do to shop more efficiently?
In a statement regarding the rollback, the NRDC recommends that consumers make better buying decisions by swapping out halogen and incandescent bulbs for LEDs (light-emitting diodes) whenever possible. “The average U.S. household has around 40 sockets, so you’ll not only save money, you will be contributing to national energy savings that really add up and help in our fight against the climate crisis,” the NRDC writes.
CNET put together a guide to buying your first LED bulb, if you’re unsure of where to start. Before you buy, look for Energy Star-certified bulbs, a marker that ensures a certain level of quality and energy-efficiency. And take a look at the bulb’s lumen rating (the amount of light it produces) and the wattage (the amount of energy/electricity it uses) on its packaging. If a LED bulb is too bright, try one with a lower lumen rating.
“LED bulbs will vary among the different brands but the main thing to note is that some are more efficient than others,” u/winterholdmage wrote on a recent Reddit thread. “For example, one brand might have a 1600 lumens bulb at 20 watts, while another brand has the same lumens rating at 16 watts. The easiest way to get the most power efficient bulb is to know the lumens rating you want and then look for the one that offers that at the lowest wattage.”
And don’t be put off by the cost of an LED; while they vary in price, a two-pack of Philips 25-watt incandescent lightbulbs costs roughly $3 at Home Depot, acompared to $10.75 for their LED counterparts. And in a comparison between a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb and a 12-watt LED bulb that produces similar light, the Department of Energy estimates that the LED bulb would last 25 times longer. (They also estimate that if you replace five of your most used fixtures or bulbs with Energy Star-certified bulbs, you’ll save $75 over the course of a year). So do yourself a favor and swap out the occasional lightbulb for a LED one to save yourself the time and effort of replacing them again and again.
read more at https://lifehacker.com by Josh Ocampo