DOE’s New Light Bulb Standard Would Minimize Lighting Costs


Contact: Ben Somberg, 202-658-8129,  

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Washington, DC—A Biden administration proposal to strengthen efficiency standards for light bulbs would drive lighting costs even lower for households and businesses. The proposed standard from the Department of Energy (DOE) today, if finalized, would save consumers $20 billion, cumulatively, and avert 131 million metric tons of carbon emissions over 30 years, according to estimates by the agency. 

“The LEDs on today’s store shelves are a great product, but it turns out the best technology can make the bulbs even more efficient. We use so many light bulbs that this improvement would meaningfully reduce energy costs for households and businesses while cutting climate pollution from power plants,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “This plan would also mark the end of an era for compact fluorescent bulbs, which are still sold in some stores today but are inferior to LEDs.” 

DOE also announced today a new estimate for the potential impacts of appliance and equipment efficiency standards it is working on. It said that finalizing standards in development for each of the products could ultimately save the average family at least $100 annually through lower energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over 30 years. 

“It’s an enormous potential impact when you add them all up. The department has a strong plan for getting these done, and we’ll need to see a concerted effort across the administration to ensure these benefits become a reality,” said Andrew deLaski. 

Light bulbs standard would improve bulbs 

DOE’s proposed standard would require most common light bulbs to produce about 125 lumens per watt, up from the existing requirement of 45 lumens per watt. A common “60-watt equivalent” bulb would need to use no more than 6.5 watts. Many of today’s LED bulbs use 9 or 10 watts, while many compact fluorescents use about 13 watts. 

Congress directed DOE to periodically evaluate energy efficiency standards for common light bulbs and strengthen them to the maximum efficiency levels that are both technologically feasible and economically justified. DOE found that the benefits of the proposed standard would far outweigh the costs. 

The light bulb announcement follows two key rules on the products earlier this year. Those rules ensured common bulbs would produce at least 45 lumens per watt and said that several common types of bulbs—such as reflector bulbs used in recessed and track lighting, candle-shaped bulbs used in wall fixtures and other decorative light fixtures, and globe-shaped bulbs often installed in bathrooms—would be covered by the standards. DOE allowed manufacturers to continue importing bulbs that do not meet those standards—including incandescent bulbs—through the end of this year, and retailers to continue selling them until July 2023. 

Federal standards still permit fluorescent bulbs in other shapes, such as the common four-foot tubes. Legislators in Vermont and California recently phased these out, emphasizing concerns about the mercury in them. An ASAP/ACEEE report this year found that LED bulbs are now available in all applicable shapes and sizes and would reduce overall costs to businesses and households. 


The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) organizes and leads a broad-based coalition effort that works to advance, win and defend new appliance, equipment and lighting standards that cut emissions that contribute to climate change and other environmental and public health harms, save water, and reduce economic and environmental burdens for low- and moderate-income households.