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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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The Final Curtain For Incandescent Light Bulbs

  • Globally, residential LED sales have jumped in recent years, rising from around 5% of the market in 2013 to about 50% in 2022.
  • As part of an energy conservation drive, the Biden Administration finalized earlier this year new rules for light bulbs.
  • Once these light bulb rules are in place, the U.S. Department of Energy expects consumers to save nearly $3 billion per year on their utility bills.
Electricity

Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb, which has been used for lighting for more than a century, is now effectively banned in the United States. 

As part of an energy conservation drive, the Biden Administration finalized earlier this year new rules for light bulbs, also known as general service lamps.     

One of the rules sets the minimum standard of 45 lumens per watt for light bulbs. Since incandescent light bulbs cannot meet that 45 lumens per watt standard for brightness (they provide around 15 lumens per watt), they do not meet the new standard and cannot be manufactured and sold in the United States as of August 1, 2023.  

The use of incandescent light bulbs is not banned, only the sale and manufacturing of less than 45 lumens per watt lights. The de facto ban exempts appliance lights, Christmas lights, flood lights, and infrared lights, among others. 

The Biden Administration’s rules are part of energy efficiency actions this year, which together will save families $100 every year. 

Once these light bulb rules are in place, the U.S. Department of Energy expects consumers to save nearly $3 billion per year on their utility bills. 

The Administration also says that over the next 30 years, the rules are projected to cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons — an amount equivalent to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year.  Related: Russia Set To Slash Diesel Exports In September

The use of incandescent light bulbs in the United States has been falling anyway, as more households have turned to the energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, (LEDs) in recent years. 

In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the use of LED bulbs surged. Households have been switching to LED lighting and 47% reported using LEDs for most or all of their indoor lighting in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says

To compare, the share of LED bulbs in indoor lighting was only 4% back in 2015.

Many countries began to phase out incandescent light bulbs more than a decade ago. LEDs are now dominant not only in the United States but also globally, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).  

Around 50% of global residential lighting sales use LED technology. 

Last year saw continued progress both in the deployment of LEDs and in lighting efficiency, the agency said in its Lighting annual report in July 2023. 

Lighting is one of the very few energy segments that is on track to meet the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, according to the report. 

Still, “Although some advanced markets have introduced new regulations mandating the exclusive sale of high-efficacy LED lamps, progress in this area must be sustained to ensure that all countries sell predominantly LED technology by 2025, and with increasing efficiency to 2030, to align with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario,” the IEA says.  

Globally, residential LED sales have jumped in recent years, rising from around 5% of the market in 2013 to about 50% in 2022, with integrated LED luminaires (one or more lamps within a unit) making up an increasing share. 

“A number of developed markets, including the United?States and Europe, are responsible for the rapid expansion of the luminaire market, with China establishing a substantial domestic and global manufacturing base,” the agency noted. 

Since 2010, the average efficacy of LEDs has improved by around 4?lumens per watt each year. The best-in-class technologies now achieve over 200?lm/W, but they are currently more expensive. The efficacy of new LEDs continues to rise, but it needs to reach about 140 lm/W by 2030 to align with the Net Zero Scenario, which would be around 30% higher than the 2022 average, the IEA said. 

Almost 80% of the world’s lighting energy consumption is now covered by Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), rising to more than 90% in Europe, the United States, and China, according to the agency. 

Incandescent light bulbs cannot meet these standards especially when technology and innovation have made lighting so efficient and cheap since the Middle Ages. The price of lighting has dropped by more than 99.9% since 1300, while efficiency has jumped 1,000-fold since 1700, according to Our World in Data.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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