Inefficient incandescent bulbs no longer available for sale in U.S.

New federal rules will cut pollution and save consumers money on their light bills

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Starting today, in an important step for the environment and consumers, incandescent light bulbs will no longer be sold in the U.S.

The phaseout is the result of new federal efficiency standards for light bulbs, adopted last April. The new standards upgraded the light bulb standard to a minimum of 45 lumens (light) per watt. Incandescent bulbs only operate at up to 18 lumens per watt. 

Over the next 30 years, the rules are estimated to cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons, which is about equal to the emissions generated by 28 million homes annually. 

According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), approximately 5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are due to lighting. Incandescents and other energy-inefficient bulbs contribute more because they produce more heat. These bulbs generate about 800,000 metric tons of totally preventable carbon emissions to the atmosphere every month.

This ban is a long time coming, and LED sales have already increased rapidly in recent years following data of their savings and efficiency.

“The lighting industry is already embracing more energy efficient products, and this measure will accelerate progress to deliver the best products to American consumers and build a better and brighter future,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

The effort is bipartisan, beginning with the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed by President George W. Bush’s, and later continued through regulations by Obama. The efforts were later withdrawn during Trump’s presidency, but were being revived under the Biden Administration. 

While LED bulbs were pricey in their early stages, their cost has drastically lowered. Nowadays the price difference is miniscule, and even lower with rebates from power companies. Moreover, these energy-efficient bulbs last up to 25 times longer and use 75% less energy than incandescents. The DOE expects consumers to save nearly $3 billion per year on their utility bills following the rule’s enactment.

As the standards go into effect, consumers will still be able to use incandescent bulbs that they own, but they will no longer be produced or sold.

The future is surely bright, with less strain on the power grid, reduced carbon emissions and more money in consumers’ wallets. Additionally, the longer lifespan of energy-efficient bulbs will reduce the amount of lightbulbs in our landfills.


Gwendolyn Reed

Communications Intern

Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

As the director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughter are working to visit every state park in Texas.

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