California Light Bulb Ban

Unless you live in California, you may not be aware that the 100- watt light bulb is being phased out; which started Jan. 1 of 2011.  From the California Energy Commission article about the phasing out of the 100 watt bulb (the "standard" referenced to below is the Energy Independence and Security Act signed in 2007):

The standard, passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, becomes effective nationwide January 1, 2012. California has enacted the federal standards one year earlier to avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs in 2011 which would cost consumers $35.6 million in unnecessarily higher electricity bills (Source: PG&E Case Study). By reducing energy consumption the standard will reduce air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants while producing the same quality of light as traditional incandescent bulbs.

The important thing to note is that this isn't a ban on incandescent bulbs, only bulbs that use more that 72 watts.  You can still get a 72 watt halogen incandescent that will put out the same amount of light as a 100 watt incandescent!

But this is just the beginning.  In 2012, this standard will go into effect for all states.  From an Associated Press article on the new standard:

The act requires new bulbs to use 25 to 30 percent less energy beginning in 2012 nationally — starting with the 100-watt bulb.  By 2014, other incandescent bulbs, including the 75-, 60- and 40-watt, will also be phased out across the country.Some specialty bulbs, however, will continue to be available. Consumers will still be able to get smaller lights such as yellow bug lights and aquarium bulbs.

When I first heard about the ban, I thought it was on all incandescents, and I wasn't sure if I would support it, only because I thought CFL and LED bulbs can still improve and come down in cost.  But seeing as it is only on bulbs that use more than 72 watts, and there are many options 72 watts and under (including incandescent) that put out the same amount of light as a 100 watt incandescent, I think this is a great idea that will help improve air quality and save people money.  While I generally support free market principles in regard to letting people make their own decisions, I've discovered that when it comes to energy, the free market has two things going against it:

  1. Since externalities aren't normally accounted for when it comes to fossil-fuel energy production, the public doesn't pay the true cost of energy.
  2. Most people are just clueless when it comes to energy.  As soon as you mention "watts" to most people, their eyes immediately glaze over and they do the exact opposite of what you are trying to convince them to do, just because they don't like being confused...even if it costs them way more money in the long run.

Because the free market is pretty bad for accounting for pollution and its effects (out of sight, out of mind), I think standards like those recently enacted in California and enacted next year in the rest of the U.S. are vital to our clean energy future.  What do you think?

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Some general points: All lights have their advantages, and even if there were energy savings, Citizens pay for the electricity they use. There is no energy or electricity shortage justifying limiting what citizens can use, and if there was a shortage of finite coal/oil/gas, their price rise limits their use anyway - without legislation. Emissions? Light bulbs don't give out CO2 gas -power plants might. If there is an energy supply/emissions problem - deal with the problem! Why supposed energy savings are not there anyway: with US Dept of Energy references = Under 1% overall energy savings from energy efficiency regulations on incandescent lights. The unpublicised industrial politics behind the ban, with documentation and copies of official communications: .
Re bulb ban (instead of tax) I thought California had a Budget problem! Also in seeing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) energy efficiency program, approving a three-year budget of $3.1 billion for Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company. section 5.2 Lighting Programs: Several hundred million dollars to lighting, giving $1-2 off price of ordinary CFLs to $5-10 for more complex CFLs and LEDs for Californian consumers. See the essay comparing Market -Tax - Regulation lighting policies: market stimulation is better than taxation or regulation to deliver energy efficiency, but it's strange that cash-strapped "liberal" California - and indeed Washington DC - politicians, while still disliking energy using light bulbs, TV sets, washing machines, cars etc, don't consider taxing them instead, noting the the 2 BILLION annual US sales of relevant light bulbs alone, and the possible cross-subsidisation it also allows to make "energy savings" products cheaper than today, so people are "not just hit by taxes".
I have not been able to find out if LED lights are comparable with systems like X10. I believe they use SCRs as do light dimmers. (I've been retired for over 20 years now so my information is way out of date.) Can anyone tell me with the proper engineering backup if the current LED light bulb replacements work properly with an X10 system? I am concerned that the X10 system will be damaged.
Some are compatible with SCR dimming. Usually the more expensive varieties. Lutron has a list of some that are compatible on their site. If you are shopping LED lights, you want to look for one that is labeled as dimmable with standard dimmers. Sadly, the market is flooded with knock-offs etc, so even that label may not guarantee that it will dim. Best bet is to buy one and test it extensively before you switch out everything. Another problem you may run in to...if you only have one or 2 LED lights on a dimmer, the total wattage may not add up to the dimmer's minimum load, so it won't turn on! Back to halogen in this case!
I think you should call it the "Efficiency Mandate" rather than "Light Bulb Ban" - glass half full, man! Positive vibes! ;) I did a post on this too; Ikea has also phased out selling incandescents, but they do sell low-priced A-shape halogens, which, at 30% better, meet the efficiency mandate. So there really are non-cfl options which are aesthetically pleasing, inexpensive, and (minimally) efficient. I'm a little on the fence about the mandate too; to be honest I'd gladly take a free market solution for efficient lighting if that meant electricity cost what it should. ;) I got a few interesting comments on my post, one which was pretty vehemently against the mandate. Overall, though, I think it's an overly emotional issue; somehow light bulbs just strike too close to home I guess. A 60W incandescent bulb is like comfort foot for some.
My kingdom for a preview ;) Food. Comfort food, not comfort foot!
The NAZIs are truly at the door. I was just reading the constitution, and couldn't find a single thing about giving the federal government the authority to ban light bulbs, mandate efficiency, etc. This legislation was obviously meant for another country, since its clearly illegal in America.
ckmapawatt's picture
But doesnt the government have some responsibility to ensure the health of the constituents? I cant just go burn tires in my backyard because it's "my right". I would be endangering the health of my neighbors by ruining their air quality. I know that's a far stretch from light bulbs, but I think the government has some role in mandating efficiency standards if poor efficiency places a burden on the environmental systems we all share.

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