Biden administration plans regulation that would only allow LED lamps from 2023

(eceee news, 20 Dec 2022) According to an exclusive piece by CNN, the Biden administration has proposed a regulation that would effectively phase out all compact fluorescent lamps and remaining incandescents in favour of LED lamps. The proposed minimum required efficacy is ambitious: 120 lumens per watt – this is approximately one-third more efficient than the current EU-legislation, which draws the line at roughly 90 lumens per watt for general service lamps.

According to CNN, the US Department of Energy aims to finalise the regulation (called “rule” in the US) by the end of President Joe Biden’s first term. The regulation would more than double the current minimum efficiency level for general service lamps, from its current level of of 45 lm/W  to 120 lm/W for the most common bulbs.

The current regulation – 45 lm/W – effectively bans incandescent and halogen lamps in the most common applications, but still leaves the field open for all compact fluorescent lamps. This policy measure would make the shift to LED general service lamps complete. The rule is approximately 30 lm/W more stringent than the current EU ecodesign regulation, but given the fact that there is now a general service lamp with an efficacy of 210 lm/W on the market (Philips so-called “Master LEDbulb Ultra-Efficient”) the EU ecodesign requirements are likely to become much more stringent when it is up for review starting later in 2023. (The updated EU ecodesign regulation is due in late 2024).

“The mandate to the Department of Energy from Congress is to find ways to save money for American consumers,” Zaidi told CNN in an interview. “LEDs are now an order of magnitude cheaper than just a decade ago.”

The proposed regulation follows the Biden administration’s move to ban inefficient incandescent bulbs by the summer of 2023. In the first half of 2022, the Department of Energy finalised a rule to phase out incandescent bulbs by mid 2023 finally delivering on decades-long bipartisan effort started during the Bush administration to get them off the shelves. 

The incandescent phase out was complicated by former President Donald Trump in 2019, whose administration undid a previous Obama-era light bulb rule.

LED use in the US has already grown significantly in recent years. Nearly 50% of US households said they used LED bulbs for most or all their indoor lighting, according to the 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. That same survey showed just 12% of US households said they used compact fluorescents as their predominant source of lighting, down from 32% in 2015.

DOE also estimates the proposed changes will cut 131 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 903 thousand tons of methane over the next 30 years – roughly equal to the electricity consumed by 29 million US homes in one year. 

Link to the DOE proposed rule here.