Inefficient Light Bulbs Already Sold in 2021 Will Needlessly Cost Consumers $1.8 Billion in Lost Utility Savings

Washington, D.C. – Last week, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), and 24 consumer groups from across the country urged U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Granholm to implement the efficiency standard for household lighting products mandated by Congress, including all the shapes and sizes added by the Obama Administration, as soon as is practicable.

Unfortunately for consumers, the previous administration did not implement the 45 lumens/watt “backstop” standard for a wide range of lighting products which was mandated by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.  In addition, in January 2017, DOE expanded the type of lighting products which would have to, at a minimum, meet the backstop standard including common household bulbs such as globe bulbs, reflector lamps, three-way light bulbs, and candelabras. EISA required that the backstop standard go into effect on January 1, 2020, in the event DOE did not itself adopt a standard at least as energy efficient.  Each month of delay costs American consumers nearly $300 million in lost utility savings and results in another 800,000 tons of climate changing CO2 emissions over the lifetimes of the incandescent bulbs sold in that month.

Consumers are already benefiting from the more efficient LEDs that are available on the market, but even greater savings are achievable as the backstop requirement would remove inefficient bulbs  being sold. Changing just one bulb from an incandescent bulb to an LED saves $40 ⎼ $90 over ten years. Using a low estimate of $55 in savings, and assuming a household has 20 incandescent bulbs, switching to LEDs would translates into $1,000 in net savings over 10 years. While LEDs have become very popular, gaining an overall market share of about 60% according to market research firm Apex Analytics, the 40% of sales that are still incandescent products are costing consumers dearly.

“The delay in implementing the standard on January 1, 2020, as required by law, is and will cost consumers well over a billion dollars in lost savings and is causing the release of millions of tons of climate change emissions into the air. Each month of additional delay will cost consumers $300 million in higher electricity bills and result in 800,000 tons of additional carbon emissions being spewed into the atmosphere,” said Mel Hall-Crawford, CFA’s Director of Energy Programs. “DOE needs to implement the standard post haste!” she stressed.

“Prompt implementation of the backstop standard by DOE will ensure that all consumers benefit from up-to-date, energy-saving technology. Low-income consumers, in particular, will see even greater benefits as they have energy bills that on average are disproportionately higher and a majority of them are renters,” said Charlie Harak, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Standards will ensure that when tenants rent an apartment, the light bulbs will be efficient and the energy bills lower, and that all consumers have access to low-cost, energy-efficient LEDs wherever they buy their bulbs.”

The consumer groups comments can be found here.


The Consumer Federation of America is a nonprofit association of more than 250 consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has used its expertise in consumer law and energy policy to work for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people in the United States.