Trump administration rollback keeps light bulbs stuck in the 19th century

Credit: Alexandru Goman

For its last dim idea of 2019, the Trump administration has officially squashed new efficiency standards for everyday, pear-shaped light bulbs. Originally set to go into effect on January 1, the updated standards phased out wasteful halogens and incandescent bulbs—which give off more than 90 percent of their energy as heat, rather than light—and required manufacturers to shift to LEDs, which consume less electricity and last longer. The standards would have saved the average American family $100 on power bills each year and spared the atmosphere some 38 million additional tons of carbon pollution. The U.S. Department of Energy has concluded that it won’t proceed with updating the standards at all—as was required by a 2007 bipartisan law. Making matters worse, the Energy Department has also taken steps to get rid of efficiency standards for other types of bulbs, such as those for recessed lighting and chandeliers. Steven Nadel, the executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, puts it well: “You wouldn’t use a phone from the 1870s, so why use Edison’s 1870s light bulb.” 

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