NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

Summary: Congress could vote on a repeal of energy-efficiency standards for incandescent lightbulbs, slated to take effect in 2012, as early as next week.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has gone on the offense with a campaign suggesting that a Congressional bid to ditch lighting efficiency standards could cheat consumers out of $12.5 billion in savings.

The organization has released state-by-state data showing the potential savings statewide and by consumer if the laws take effect in January 2012, as planned. The laws were originally adopted in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act. They call for the phaseout of inefficient light bulbs in favor of products that meet certain minimum efficiency standards (between 25 percent and 30 percent more efficient). Consumers will be able to buy improved incandescent bulbs but the biggest savings -- over time -- will come from compact florescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. These bulbs cost more to buy upfront, but they last much longer while using less electricity.

The savings data was collected for NRDC by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Certain states, including California, New York and Texas, could save more than $1 billion collectively in electricity costs when the laws take effect, according to the NRDC data. Consumers in a number of states could save more than $100 per household annually when the laws take effect. Those states are: Alaska ($131), California ($124), Connecticut ($139), Delaware ($101), Hawaii ($225), Maine ($105), Maryland ($107), Massachusetts ($109), New Hampshire ($117), New Jersey ($125), New York ($138), Rhode Island ($113), and Vermont ($105).

Collectively, the researchers say that the savings from the new bulb standards would eliminate the need for 30 new power plants.

Said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project:

"The average U.S. household would save about 7 percent on their annual electricity costs, or roughly one-twelfth. In other words, the savings from the lighting standards would be like getting a free month without a power bill, every single year."

A move to repeal the efficiency rules has become a cause celebre with a number of high-profile Republicans, who want the government to have less say in such matters. Lawmakers have also said the rules have resulted in lost American jobs, which is something no one really wants to hear right now.

The latest bid to repeal the law came in the form of a motion this week from Representative Joe Barton (R.-Texas). The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R.-Mich.) will push to have the bill brought to the floor possibly as early as next week, according to a published report from "The Hill," a Washington, D.C., news service. That's important because Upton supported the original law.

In a statement given to "The Hill," Upton said:

"It was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use. The public response on this issue is a clear signal that markets -- not governments -- should be driving technological advancements. I will join my colleagues to vote yes on a bill to protect consumer choice and guard against federal overreach."

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  • "efficiencey" depends on your situation!

    If you live in the North and net heat your home, the "waste" heat lowers your heating bill.<br><br>If like me you live in the South and need net A/C, the "waste" heat is really bad. I quickly switched to LCD panels and CF lighting because of this. But the key was it was done when I could afford it, not because some bureaucrat declared it the "right" thing to do.<br><br>OTOH CF longevity claims are bogus. In most sockets I see maybe 2-3x the life of the at least 5X cheaper incandescent bulbs.<br> <br>LED lights are a long way from affordable or useful to the average light socket. Let the new construction and upscale users pave the way for the rest of us. Forcing the working Joe to pay $20+ for a previously $0.50 bulb will cause a serious backlash!

    Convenient how the environazis overlook the CF mercury issue when it suits their purpose!
    wkulecz
    • Not exactly.

      @wkulecz <br><br>Not by damned much, and for the price of the electricity, you would do better to seal drafts around your house, get higher quality windows, etc.<br><br>As to the CF 'mercury issue'.... it's a non-issue. Why? Because the fact is that there is less mercury in the bulbs than you release into the atmosphere by the energy to run them!<br><br>Add into that, there are PLENTY of recycling centers for these bulbs nationwide and it becomes a non-issue.

      On the issue of "the longevity claims are bogus".. nope. Not if you have CLEAN power.... if you have power that is constantly spiking/browning (in which case you should invest in a whole house surge protector), then the lifetime claims get iffy.
      Lerianis10
      • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

        @Lerianis10
        What about if one breaks? I'm not disputing anything this is what a casual search reveals:
        http://www.epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup-detailed.html

        I've broken a lot of bulbs over the past 60 years.

        My son doesn't have the spiking/brownout problems and still gets nowhere near the life that is claimed for these bulbs. About 3X is what he tells me.
        Joe Dufflebag
      • Absolutely safe

        @Lerianis10 The mercury issue is completely valid. "Absolutely safe": that's what the government told us about the air at Ground Zero. I knew there was something wrong when the smell coming in through our office's vents was that of vaporized flesh and chemicals, so our building put the system on recirculate. Years later, we know how "safe" it was.
        davidr69
      • Ahhhh, a true believer....

        @Lerianis10
        try living out here in the real world. wkulecz's claims are correct for most (many?) of us. Your throw away line about updating the house is just marvelous. Got any actual money numbers to compare costs instead of cut and paste from Greenpeace? How about the cost of a power conditioner to smooth out the power? A surge protector does NOT do the job.

        As for the price of electricity... it would be half of what it will be in 2012 if we would stop all this idiocy about drilling and fracking and nukes.

        But the real issues is the freedom to choose whatever bloodly light source I want and scew the damn polar bears.
        wizardjr
      • Not entirely accurate based on my experience.

        @Lerianis10 [b]On the issue of "the longevity claims are bogus".. nope. Not if you have CLEAN power.... if you have power that is constantly spiking/browning (in which case you should invest in a whole house surge protector), then the lifetime claims get iffy.[/b]

        I work at a high rise building that has a backup system that utilizes 2 diesel generators and a UPS system as a backup. The UPS system acts not only as a means to keep power on critical systems but also acts as a power filter keeping the spiking/ browning issue down.

        What this has to do with your longevity statement is that same system takes care of the lighting systems within the building which is comprised of mainly fluorescent lighting but also fixtures that formerly used incandescent lamps but have in the last 4 years been replaced by CFLs. And in the last 4 years those CFLs have been replaced at least twice! And again this is on a system that utilizes "filtered" power and a building automation system that regulates the on/off times of these lights.

        As it stands right now the owners are considering a few proposals to go to LED lighting wherever possible throughout the building and eliminating the so-called long life CFLs.
        athynz
    • No.

      @wkulecz

      The waste heat "savings" is a myth. If you're losing 90W to heat on a 100W bulb, your heater only has to put out 90W of additional energy to make that up...

      The CFL mercury issue is a nonissue if you dispose of CFLs properly by taking them to a recycling center. Any home depot or lowes will take them.
      snoop0x7b
      • pipe dreams

        @snoop0x7b as if most of the public will take the time and gasoline to drive to a recycle center with a dead CFL. You live in a dream world not populated by real people.

        As for your heat claims you might want to take a course in Thermodynamics and practical civil/mechanical engineering before making such simplistic claims. Your statement leaves out huge amounts of heat exchange and efficiency issues.
        wizardjr
      • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

        @snoop0x7b

        Apparently not true. Around here there are two Home Depots and two Lowes. It depends on which month I go and who I talk to as to whether or not they take CFLs. And for a long time, neither of them would at all. They also can't decide if they take fluorescent tubes and if so, how many.

        I would also argue the long-life claims of CFLs. It seems extremely dependent on your particular circuits and usage. They seem very fragile.
        pj_mouse
    • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

      @wkulecz It appears to me the wording of the bill is for public works to switch their bulbs - not individual consumers - although I could be wrong. Here we have bills that force our municipalities to use more efficient bulbs, and they are already paying off. Changing lightbulbs turns out to be the driver here - paying the guys with the super long ladders / cranes is ridiculously expensive in many public buildings.
      dimonic
    • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

      @wkulecz
      Absolutely wrong.

      The CF lightbulbs have been in the UK for years and are

      Pro:
      - Cheap
      - Last for ages and ages

      Con:
      - Are about 20% dimmer than the rated equivalent
      - Have been intriduced before proper recycling widely available

      They are good, and well worth it.

      Indeed manufacture/import has been banned in the EU of traditional fillament liights since Sept 2009. Sell thru on old stocks is still allowed.
      neil.postlethwaite
  • the gov should stay out of the lighting business

    It is my decision how to illuminate my house and nobody should tell me not to use incandescent bulbs, candles or a petrol lamp.
    Linux Geek
    • Yeah, every American

      should be able to do whatever they want regardless of how it affects anybody else. Maybe okay when the country contained 2 million people in 1810, but with 320 million today that's not really sane.
      @Linux Geek
      GoPower
      • American's right

        @GoPower Hey, it's every American's right to have a 32-cylinder SUV that will only transport 1 person, and it's every American's right to consume 3x the amount of food that he should.

        We live lifestyles of excess without a care about what it will do to our children/grandchildren.
        davidr69
      • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

        @GoPower
        maybe we should bring those numbers under control. I would start with the illegal immigrants.
        Linux Geek
    • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

      @Linux Geek Not really. It has NOTHING to do with what you want. For example, if you wanted to use a petrol lamp, fine. Go ahead and FIND someone selling petrol lamps that won't burn down and/or stink up your house. The real issue is going to be if anyone is going to continue making incandescent bulbs anymore. Go to your home depot or Lowes and look at the bulb section. With the introduction of the CFL bulbs and now the LED-based bulbs, how much shelf space is going to go to incandescent lighting? Your "choice" is NOT yours. If nobody continues making incandescent bulbs anymore, there goes your choice, doesn't it. So, who's choice is it? Probably the choice of the people who make light bulbs. Maybe, to a certain extent, the store chains who have to allocate shelf space. To a certain extent, consumers will make that choice. I agree that it would be nice for the government to stay out of your decision, but there has to be a standard for government offices. We already have too many bulb types: cfl, incandescent, led, halogen, straight flourescent (many lengths). Then again, who is going to provide all of the electricity for all of this?
      hforman@...
  • Nanny State

    try running an Ez-Bake oven with a 14w CF. ain't happening.
    kkaiser
    • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

      @kkaiser Either the EZ-Bake oven will become a memory (yummy to those of us that used them as kids) or the law will have to be changed to allow them. The only issue then becomes cost per bulb if they are allowed to be made for very few uses.
      techrepublic@...
    • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

      @kkaiser I think they should start making the Ez-Microwave and forget about the bulb oven. I was fine with my Gilbert chemistry set and my mother never knew I was making brimestone in her kitchen (burning sulfur).
      hforman@...
  • RE: NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

    I've used CFL's for several years, and their claims of longer life are bunk. Most I've had have died within 12 months of use. Now you have a bulb with mercury in it that you can't just throw in the trash. Plus, these bulbs are more expensive to buy than incandescent, so I'd say CFL's have cost me MORE.
    Dauplat