On April 26th, 2022, the Biden Administration adopted two new rules for lightbulbs—also known as “general service lamps”—that will conserve energy and help consumers save on their energy bills.
The new rules have broad implications for the American public. As a direct result of the new rules, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) expects American consumers to save nearly $3 billion on their annual utility bills. Over the next 30 years, the rules are projected to cut carbon emission by 222 million metric tons—an amount equivalent to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year.
“Modernizing the energy efficiency standards of common household appliances is a simple and effective method for slashing carbon emissions and reducing the cost of energy for all Americans. The benefits of these new rules will extend far into the future, improving conditions for the American consumer and our partners in the lighting industry as we accelerate our progress toward net-zero carbon emissions.”
- Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
In The News
New Energy Department rules will save consumers $3 billion and cut annual carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over 30 years - Washington Post
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a general service lamp?
- A “lamp” is what is commonly referred to as a light bulb. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act defines a general service lamp as general service incandescent lamps (GSILs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and general service LED lamps and OLED lamps, and any other lamps that the Secretary determines are used to satisfy lighting applications traditionally served by GSILs. A GSIL in general is a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp that is intended for general service applications; has a medium screw base; has a lumen range of not less than 310 lumens and not more than 2,600 lumens or, in the case of a modified spectrum lamp, not less than 232 lumens and not more than 1,950 lumens; and is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.
What is the “backstop” or “backstop efficacy level”?
- The backstop is an efficacy level of 45 lumens per watt that was set forth by Congress. Congress directed DOE to prohibit the sale of lamps that do not meet the backstop if DOE did not complete certain rulemaking actions. The efficacy level of 45 lumens per watt requires the use of lamps that are either LED or CFL, as opposed to halogen or incandescent lamps. The Trump administration determined that DOE had satisfied those rulemaking requirements and that the backstop therefore was not “triggered.”
What does it mean that the backstop was “triggered”?
- If DOE has failed to fulfill the requirements set out by Congress, then the Energy Policy and Conservation Act requires DOE to prohibit the sale of general service lamps that do not meet the backstop efficacy level. DOE is finalizing its interpretation that the backstop efficacy level has been triggered and the sales of GSLs that do not meet the backstop efficacy level are prohibited beginning on the effective date of the final rule.
Why is DOE issuing an enforcement policy?
- DOE acknowledged during the rulemaking that there could be implementation challenges for certain lamp types if the backstop were to take effect immediately, and DOE remains committed to working with the distribution chain to minimize stranded inventory. As part of the Biden administration’s commitment, DOE is announcing the enforcement policy to ensure consumers will continue to have access to efficient lamps that meet their needs, while transitioning through any technological and distribution challenges.
Why is this rulemaking important?
- Annually, consumers are expected to save nearly $3 billion in utility bills due to the final rules issued today. The carbon emissions reductions over 30 years are equivalent to the electricity used by 43.2 million homes per year or 59 coal power plants emissions in one year. The carbon emissions reduction in 2024 alone is enough to provide electricity to 1.8 million homes for one year.
Will consumers face a shortage of lamps they need, especially in specialty applications?
- The light bulb transition to more efficient bulbs has been occurring over the past decade and has rapidly expanded and accelerated in recent years. The most common light bulb, the Edison A-lamp, already has over a 90-percent installed stock of bulbs that would comply with the statutory efficacy backstop. These lamps are readily available to consumers in the volumes necessary to support the market. While the stock of specialty bulbs that comply with the statutory efficacy backstop is lower, compliant light bulbs still represent the majority of the installed stock. DOE expects the enforcement policy, which allows for a managed transition, will provide sufficient time for consumers to find more-efficient bulbs of all shapes and sizes to fit their needs.
DOE’s Building Technologies Office implements minimum energy conservation standards for more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment. As a result of these standards, American consumers saved $63 billion on their utility bills in 2015 alone. By 2030, cumulative operating cost savings from all standards in effect since 1987 will reach nearly $2 trillion. Products covered by standards represent about 90% of home energy use, 60% of commercial building use, and 30% of industrial energy use.
To learn more, visit the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program homepage.