2023 Light bulb bans in coming weeks

Recently, the Biden administration is preparing to implement a sweeping nationwide ban on commonly used light bulbs as part of its energy efficiency and climate agenda.

The regulations, which prohibit retailers from selling incandescent light bulbs, were finalized by the Department of Energy (DOE) in April 2022 and are slated to take effect on Aug. 1, 2023. The DOE will begin full enforcement of the ban on that date, but it has already urged retailers to begin transitioning away from the light bulb type and begun issuing warning notices to companies in recent months.

“The lighting industry is adopting more energy efficient products, and this measure will accelerate progress to deliver the best products to American consumers and build a brighter future,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in 2022.

According to the DOE announcement, the regulations will save an estimated $3 billion per year on utility bills for consumers and cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next three decades.

According to the rules, incandescent and similar halogen light bulbs will be prohibited in favor of light-emitting diode or LED. While U.S. households have increasingly switched to LED light bulbs since 2015, less than 50% of households reported using mostly or exclusively LEDs, according to the most recent results from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

The federal data showed, 47% use mostly or only LEDs, 15% use mostly incandescent or halogens, and 12% use mostly or all compact fluorescent (CFL), with another 26 reporting no predominant bulb type. In last December, the DOE introduced separate rules banning CFL bulbs, paving the way for LEDs to be the only legal light bulbs to purchase.

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According to the survey data, LEDs are also far more popular in higher-income households, meaning the energy regulations will particularly impact lower-income Americans. While 54% of households with an income of more than $100,000 per year used LEDs, just 39% of households with an income of $20,000 or less used LEDs.

"We believe that LED bulbs are already available for those consumers who prefer them over incandescent bulbs for more energy efficient consideration," a coalition of free market and consumer groups opposed to incandescent bulb bans wrote in a comment letter to the DOE last year.

"While LEDs are more efficient and generally longer-lasting than incandescent bulbs, they currently cost more than incandescent bulbs and are inferior for certain functions such as dimming," the letter also said.