This story was first published by The Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
The Biden administration has moved to reverse the depredations endured by one of the more unusual targets of Donald Trump’s culture wars during his time as US president: the humble lightbulb.
The Department of Energy has put forward a new standard for the energy efficiency of lightbulbs that would essentially banish the era of older, incandescent technology in favor of LED lighting.
According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the absence of lightbulb regulations contributes to the worsening climate crisis and costs households money. The group has foundAmericans spend nearly $300 million each month on electricity and release 800,000.0 tons of carbon dioxide every month through the use of inefficient bulbs.
Trump wasn’t attracted to LED lights when he was at the White House. The twice-impeached president said that he looks “better under an incandescent light than these crazy lights that are beaming down,” complaining in 2019 that he “always looks orange” under LED lights. He claimed that if LEDs break they become “a hazardous waste site” and are “very dangerous with all of the gases.”
Trump, who also used his position at the zenith of global power to voice outrage over toilets that he said required flushing “10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” vowed to bring back the older lightbulbs, with the White House declaring that the real estate developer and former Apprentice host was allowing Americans to “go ahead and decorate your house with whatever lights you want.”
Trump’s Department of Energy followed this lead, blocking a rule that would have led to the phase-out of incandescent lightbulbs. The administration claimed that the move would save consumers money and remove any government inferences from the market.
However, the DOE has consistently shown that LED bulbs can be installed in light fixtures to save hundreds of dollars over their lifetime. While LEDs are typically more expensive than incandescents because they are based on Thomas Edison’s technology, their cost has decreased. droppedBy almost 90 percent in the last decade.
Incandescent lightbulbs still make up aboutA third of all bulbs sold in the United States are now covered by the new standard. The DOE stated that the new standard will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers almost $3 billion annually.
After lobbying from manufacturers the new standard will be implemented in a staggered fashion. However, this could mean that there are many years of incandescent sales. “This progress is welcome news for consumers and for the planet, but the administration is not acting here with the urgency needed to address the climate crisis,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, added: “It’s time to get this done. The manufacturers have already received a couple extra years beyond Congress’s deadline to sell bulbs that have a short lifespan and waste a lot of energy. Now they’re pushing for more. The department needs to remember that any extra time it takes and compliance flexibility it gives come at the expense of consumers and the climate.”