While the rest of the country won’t start enforcing the new energy efficiency
regulations for light bulbs until 2012, California got a head start on Jan. 1,
2011. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 allows California
to start phasing out incandescent bulbs that do not meet the new efficiency
requirements a year ahead of time. Clark Linstone, President of Pacific Coast
Lighting and Chair of the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Government / Regulatory
Affairs Committee, says California has been very proactive about energy
efficiency in the past and this exception will allow the state to follow a more
aggressive phase-out schedule.
EISA established more stringent requirements for the maximum number of watts
used to produce a certain amount of lumens, which current incandescent bulbs do
This means incandescent bulbs will be gradually phased out, starting with the
standard 100W bulb in 2012, followed by the 75W bulb in 2013 and 60W and 40W
bulbs in 2014. However, the California Energy Commission voted to enact these
standards a year earlier for each bulb.
California law states that bulbs manufactured after Jan. 1, 2011, must
certify that they meet the efficiency standards or they can’t be sold in
California. However, bulbs manufactured prior to that date will not be held to
the new standards.Linstone says he thinks bulb manufacturers are ready for the
switch, but that there may be a period of confusion for consumers.
“I think there’s a tremendous need for consumer education,” Linstone says.
“People are used to judging bulbs based on watts, but as technology has
you can now get more lumens per watt, so it doesn’t make sense to evaluate based
on wattage anymore.”
Adam Gottlieb, Media/Communications Manager for the California Energy
Commission, says the Commission has a consumer education effort in the works,
including resources on its website, and that GE and The Home Depot have already
launched websites to educate consumers on the new regulations. The Federal Trade
Commission has also implemented new labeling rules for bulb packaging to better
communicate light output.