While the rest of the country won’t start enforcing the new energy efficiency regulations for light bulbs until 2012, California will get a head start beginning 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 not meet. This means incandescent bulbs will be gradually phased out, starting with the 100W bulb in 2012, followed by the 75W bulb in 2013 and the 60W and 40W bulbs in 2014. However, the California Energy Commission voted to enact these standards a year earlier for each bulb, so the phase-out will start there in 2011 and end in 2013.
According to the California Energy Commission, 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 do not need to meet the new standards and can be freely sold in the state.
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 progressed, 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.