January 1st, 2012. That day has been looming large in the lighting industry since 2007, when Congress voted into law the eventual phase-out of energy inefficient incandescent light bulbs. Both parties supported the decision at first, but as time wore on, conservative pundits argued that banning incandescent bulbs would strip Americans of the right to freely choose their own lighting fixtures. Things hit a fever pitch in the national media when director of Natural Resource Defense Council’s Air and Energy program, Dale Bryk, made a guest appearance on The Colbert Report to defend the ban. Bryk said, “The reasoning for [the ban] was simple: our light bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat and after 125 years on the market, it’s time for a re-tooling. Following in the footsteps of other efficiency standards that have made our refrigerators 90% more efficient and required our cars to get more miles per gallon, this lighting standard will put better bulbs on the shelves and cut our nation’s electric bill by $10 BILLION a year. It’ll also zero out the pollution from 30 coal-fired power plants.” Read the full story here.
But, logic and reason aside, Congress voted last week to eradicate the funds the Department of Energy would need to enforce the ban, a move which some say takes the teeth out of the lighting efficiency movement. Others believe the movement will continue to hold strong, and I would have to agree. Here’s why:
Whether or not retailers offer incandescent bulbs doesn’t change the fact that increasingly, consumers are choosing to buy energy efficient fixtures like LED light bars and LED under cabinet lighting. Marketing firm EcoPinion published a study showing that two-thirds of Americans are in favor of adopting more energy-efficient lighting technologies. Manufacturers are also on board. According to Larry Lauck, a spokesman for the American Lighting Association, “The industry has moved on. U.S. light bulb manufacturers have already retooled their production lines to build more efficient bulbs.” To top it off, Pike Research predicted that LED technologies could account for about 52 percent of the commercial lighting market by 2021.
Most importantly, it’s no secret that when it comes to saving energy, LED lights get the job done. In July 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council did a state-by-state analysis of the potential savings we could enjoy as a nation once the ban goes into effect. The number it came up with? $12.5 billion.
Though this last ditch effort to defund the ban might allow some politicians to feel as if they’ve won a small battle (especially Michele Bachmann, who initiated a bill to do away with the ban), I still believe we’ll win the war. There’s just too much evidence to support the benefits of switching to energy efficient lighting at home and commercially. Most Americans are no longer in the dark about these facts, and as they say, knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge will help us to save lots of it.