How to Save Money on Light Bulbs

The Energy Security and Independence Act (EISA)

The Energy Security and Independence Act was passed by congress and signed by President Bush in 2007. The law was created to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and to make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy. The bill calls for improved vehicle fuel economy and increased production of Biodiesel, and also sets new efficiency standards for lighting and appliances including residential boilers, clothes dryers, room air conditioners, clothes washers, residential water heaters, dishwashers, kitchen stoves ovens, microwave ovens, and dehumidifiers.


Lighting standards appointed by the Energy Security and Independence Act

The ESIA requires that lighting is roughly 200 percent more efficient by 2020.   The new standards demand about 25% greater efficiency for most standard light bulbs*, phased in from 2012 through 2014.  Though this effectively bans the manufacturing and importing of most current incandescent bulbs, U.S. lighting manufacturers have developed an array of more efficient light bulbs that are gaining market share. These include compact fluorescent lamps (CFL bulbs), light-emitting diodes (LED lights), and halogen incandescents.

*Various specialty bulbs are exempt, including appliance bulbs, colored lights, stage lights, plant lights, and 3-way bulbs, as well as light bulbs currently less than 40 watts or more than 150 watts.


CFL, LED and Halogen Incandescents

Halogen Incandescents

Halogen incandescents use the same technology introduced by Thomas Edison, but with the addition of halogen, a combustible gas that makes the process more efficient. They give off the same amount of light, but use 28% less energy. Halogen incandescents will effectively replace traditional incandescents on the shelves, but will have different wattage values for the same amount of lumen emitted. For example, 72W halogen incandescents emit the same amount of light as 100W incandescent bulbs.

CFL Bulbs

Compact fluorescent bulbs are also designed to replace incandescent bulbs. CFLs consist of a fluorescent tube and ballast in a single unit, and are designed to replace incandescent bulbs. A 23- to 27-watt CFL provides the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb, but consumes 75 percent less energy.

CFL’s do contain a small amount of mercury; be sure to dispose of them properly and follow recommended clean-up procedures if they break. Though some of the mercury content of CFLs may pollute landfills, the EPA claims that the amount of mercury pollution from CFLs would still be roughly 3 times less than the mercury emitted from burning the coal that to power a comparable number of incandescents. Complaints made by users of CFLs concern their light color and quality, and that they fail to work or wear out early.

LED Lights

Light-emitting diodes, or LED lights are a semi-conductor light source. Though they supposedly use the least energy and last the longest, they are initially significantly more expensive than incandescents or CFLs.

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