Will the U.S. Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs Save You Money?

On August 1, 2023, the U.S. government implemented a ban on the sale of new incandescent light bulbs. After being the default home bulb for over 100 years, incandescent bulbs will no longer be available on retailer shelves.

The Department of Energy took this decision to conserve energy and lower energy bills.

The DOE estimates that 5% of global carbon greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to lighting. Replacing incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs would help to bring down these emissions.

Over the next 30 years, the new regulations could cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons. This is equivalent to emissions generated by 28 million homes in one year.

Which bulbs are excluded from the incandescent bulb ban?

Stores will be prohibited from selling any bulbs that do not match the new 45 lumens per watt brightness standard. These light bulbs are not impacted by the incandescent bulb ban:

  • Appliance lamps, including fridge and oven lights
  • Black lights
  • Bug lamps
  • Colored lamps
  • Infrared lamps
  • Left-handed thread lamps
  • Plant lights
  • Floodlights
  • Reflector lamps
  • Showcase lamps
  • Traffic signals
  • Some other specialty lights, including marine lamps and some odd-sized bulbs

What are more sustainable options for my incandescent bulbs?

Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are one of the most sustainable and cost-effective replacements for incandescent bulbs. They can cost more upfront, but LEDs last ~30 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use at least 75% less electricity. This results in a lower energy bill over time. Plus, with their longer lifespan, LEDs end up costing about 90% less per hour used.

The Department of Energy estimates that by 2035, the majority of lighting installations in the U.S. would use LED technology. This would result in an energy savings of ~ 569 TWh annually by 2035, equal to the annual energy output of more than 92 1,000 MW power plants.

As of 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration, 47% of U.S. households reported using LED bulbs for most indoor lighting. This is a significant increase from only 4 percent in 2015. This ban would further accelerate the adoption of LED bulbs across the country.

CFLs are another alternative to incandescent bulbs, but they are next in line to be banned. Vermont has already banned their sale in February 2023, and lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington state are also considering CFL bans, according to Environment America.

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