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Wednesday June 28, 2017    

Education - New Lighting Standards (EISA)


Parts of a CFL

What is this “light bulb” law?

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
(the “Energy Bill”), signed by President George W.
Bush on December 18, 2007 is an energy policy
intended to make better use of our resources and
help the United States become energy independent.
The law provides important benefits to consumers,
industry, our country and our environment.
Part of the law sets energy efficiency standards for
light bulbs; the first phase goes into effect January
2012. This document addresses frequent questions
and some common misconceptions about the law.

What does the law require?
Under the new law, screw-based light bulbs will use fewer watts for a similar lumen output. The standards are technology neutral, which means any type of bulb can be sold as long as it meets the efficiency requirements. Common household light bulbs that traditionally use between 40 and 100 watts will use at least 27% less energy by 2014. The law applies to the manufacturer date and will begin affecting 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. California began the transition one year earlier.

The law is being phased in over the next three years:


After the
Effective Date
100 watt
≤ 72 watts
January 1, 2012
75 watt
≤ 53 watts
January 1, 2013
60 watt
≤ 43 watts
January 1, 2014
40 watt
≤ 29 watts
January 1, 2014

The second part of the law requires that most light bulbs be 60-70% more efficient than the standard incandescent today; this will go into effect in 2020. Many compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and many Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) can meet this requirement today, shaving energy usage compared to standard incandescents by 75%.


Why is this law needed and how does it benefit consumers?
EISA is eliminating unnecessarily wasteful products from the market. There are 4 billion light bulb sockets in the U.S. and more than 3 billion of them still use the standard incandescent technology that hasn’t changed much in 125 years. A standard incandescent is only 10% efficient – the other 90% of the electricity it uses is lost as heat.
Another benefit of using more efficient light bulbs includes reductions of harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants (mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, acid gases and greenhouse gases1). This helps to protect the health of our citizens, wildlife and environment, and it’s an easy, achievable step toward reducing our carbon footprint.
Additionally, efficient products mean cost savings. The new standards mean U.S. households collectively could save nearly $6 billion in 2015 alone, as estimated by U.S. Department of Energy.

Do the manufacturers of light bulbs support the Federal standards?
Yes. Through the trade association, National Electrical Manufacturers Association or NEMA, all the leading lighting manufacturers have publicly expressed their support. A patchwork of state laws is burdensome for business and this law will minimize confusion by ensuring consumers in every state have the same choices available to them. NEMA also states that the standards are spurring U.S. competitiveness and leadership in innovation, creating new opportunities for our economy.


Will this change the way I shop for light bulbs?
Yes, it will shift your focus from watts to lumens when shopping for light bulbs. Lumens tell you how much light a bulb will provide, watts only tell you how much power it uses. Watts are a better predictor of how hot a light bulb will be than how bright it is. Overall, for dimmer lighting, aim for fewer lumens; for brighter light, look for a greater number of lumens.

  • If you used to buy 100 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1600 lumens.
  • If you used to buy 75 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1100 lumens.
  • If you used to buy 60 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 800 lumens.
  • If you used to buy 40 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 450 lumens.

To make it easier to compare light bulbs, the Federal Trade Commission has designed a new label, which you’ll see at the beginning of 2012. The label will provide information about lumens (brightness), estimated annual operating cost, how long the bulb should last, and light appearance. The latter will help you find the color of light you find more pleasing (warm yellowish to cool white).

The label example below on the left is for a CFL; the label in the middle is for a standard incandescent. Note the difference between the yearly energy costs. The label example below on the far right is what you’ll expect to see on the front of the light bulb packaging; it shows lumens (brightness) and estimated energy cost per year.

Label on back or side of package
Label on front of package


It is also important to look for the ENERGY STAR on light bulb packaging, which means that they meet strict criteria set by EPA for both energy efficiency and quality. Other bulbs may be cheaper, but the tests that ENERGY STAR requires are important, and necessary for consumers to get the performance they expect.


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