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Energy Efficiency House strips funding for new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs

Published on July 17th, 2011 | by Tina Casey


Zombie Light Bulb Legislation Rises from the Dead

House strips funding for new energy efficiency standards for light bulbsOn the eve of the first ever U.S. Army and Air Force joint Energy Forum, which will explore the future direction of U.S. energy policy in terms of national defense strategy, the U.S. House of representatives has just dialed the domestic energy clock back down to the 19th century. Lead by Texas Representative Michael Burgess, last Friday the House passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that effectively prevents the Department of Energy from implementing  new energy efficiency standards for household light bulbs.

Energy and National Defense

Technologically speaking, the Burgess amendment time-travels U.S. energy all the way back to the invention of the incandescent light bulb, about 130 years ago. Back then, the U.S. Army was still using horses and the U.S. Air Force was just a twinkle in its mother’s eye. So yes, conventional incandescent technology is a bit out of step with our time.

Wait a Minute – Didn’t They Kill that Bill?

If you’ve been following the legislative trail of the pro-incandescent movement, news of the Friday’s victory may come as a surprise. That’s because a bill to repeal the efficiency standards was introduced in the House earlier this week and it failed on procedural grounds, much to the delight of U.S. light bulb manufacturers who have already moved on to new high-efficiency technologies. So that means the new efficiency standard is safe, right? Wrong! You know how persistent those zombies can be. Just when you think they’re down, they keep right on coming. The Burgess amendment stripped the implementation funding from the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, so guess what, no new standards.

Energy Efficiency and Incandescent Bulbs

As reported elsewhere in CleanTechnica, the new light bulb efficiency standards were set under a 2007 law that did not “ban” incandescents, but it did require manufacturers to invest in the R&D needed to create more efficient technologies. At the time, it didn’t look like there was much prospect for engineering a more efficient incandescent bulb, so the emphasis was on improving CFL and LED technologies. However, those intrepid U.S. manufacturers are also beginning to introduce new light bulbs that look and act exactly like traditional incandescent bulbs, only they meet the new efficiency standards.

And We Should Care Because…?

Considering how quickly U.S. manufacturers and consumers are adapting to new lighting technologies that save money, it does seem a little odd that the majority party in the House is spending so much of its energy on pushback. After all, there’s a couple of other things going on that need attention from our representatives in Washington. Couple of wars, bunch of people needing jobs, people needing help dealing with some big fires and tornadoes and floods and stuff…oh yeah, and the whole U.S. is about to lose its credit rating for apparently no reason. Well I guess some things are just more important than others.

Image: Incandescent light by FeatheredTar on

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • ledlightingwholesale

    LED lighting is a must in reducing much needed energy in all Federal buildings and facilities. These federal buildings will set precedence for other manufacturing, real estate and retail environments. This incentive will go a long way in beginning a much needed national and global energy reduction.

  • John Barksdale

    I support any legislation that permits consumers to buy whatever home lighting they please. I’ve doubled the number of bulb sockets in my home in anticipation of you kilowatt statists and your groundless carbonphobia.

  • Mac McDougal

    The Moron Caucus’s views on energy regulation suggest a creative solution to this and many other issues: undo the mistake we made at the end of the Civil War. Expel the South from the Union.

    Think of the benefits. Most of the GOP would disappear from Congress. Americans could see their views on the issues of the day (e.g., climate change) reflected in law. And Southern legislators would finally be able to forge the 19th century theocracy they apparently desire.

    Governor Rick Perry has already expressed his desire that Texas secede again. I say “Think bigger, Rick. Take the rest of the Confederacy with you!” How sweet it would be to say farewell, friends, and best of luck.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, this is awesome! what a great idea :D wouldn’t that be something?

      this is such a cool few paragraphs, i would like to publish it as a separate post :D

      • Mac McDougal

        You betcha. Thanks for the good work you all do. I’m actually developing a longer essay on this subject. Let me know if you’d like to see it. Best, Mac

        • Anonymous

          Ooo, definitely! If that is any sort of preview, I’d love to publish it as a guest post. If it’s quite long, could even be multiple posts. Let me know what you think.

  • Bob Higgins

    In response to “How many lawmakers does it take to…,” by Jeff Jacoby in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

    I switched to CFLs in 2006. With the exception of one bulb which broke when I clumsily knocked over a lamp, every CFL that I bought five years ago is still in use today.

    They have provided light and a small but significant savings of energy and money. I haven’t bought an additional bulb in a couple of years.

    We have accepted limits on the flow rate of our faucets and the flush rate of our toilets in the interest of conserving precious water. We’ve accepted fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles as a measure of reducing pollution and conservation of petroleum resources.

    Much of society, of civilization, is concerned with placing limits on human activities, on behavior, on consumption of resources.

    In the interest of protecting what we hold and use in common we place restrictions on the production of poisons, pollution, weapons, incendiaries and even noise.

    Now, Jeff Jacoby tells us that the same people who rolled over for the Patriot act, illegal wiretaps, and public body cavity searches of small children and grandmothers are headed for the barricades over being deprived of the use of incandescent light bulbs?

    We do not occupy this planet alone, the universe does not revolve around us, society is about setting limits, so grow up, get over it.

    Yes, your freedom is threatened but will you complaisantly watch your elections rigged by corporate interests, your right to privacy voided, your children violated, and go to the ramparts over light bulbs?

    • Anonymous

      Easy there, Sir Galahad. Obama is more Bush-like than Bush. Gitmo is still open, isn’t it?

      Obama re-authorized the Patriot Act on May 26, 2011, for 4 more years. O could have let it lapse. The dems had two years of total control of the govt, yet all those things you complained about are still going on. Why is that?

      Obama could relax the searches by the TSA today, if he wanted. Why doesn’t he? Because he has no courage. If he told the TSA to back off and something happened, he is afraid he would be blamed.

      The rigging of elections has been done for the last 50 years by the democrats, the teacher and public employee unions, and acorn. If someone else is getting into the business of election rigging, I say go for it, give the dems some competition.

      • Bob Higgins

        The name is Bob Higgins, I’m not sure why you used Sir Galahad, Skippy.

        The Topic is CFLs vs incandescent bulbs and recent congressional action in that regard.

        The problem is that your word salad is filled with cute republicanisms and devoid of the dressing of truth.

        Please slither away, there are too many like you and I’m bored with your species.

        • Anonymous

          Couldn’t hardly tell your post was about CFL’s, Galahad, what with it being drenched in lefty political hyperbole. If you can do it, so can anyone.

          Do you think you should not be challenged when you spout this crap in public?

          The problem for you is, everything I said is true. Insofar as slithering away goes, you and your fellow socialist will be doing the slithering in 2012, much as you did in 2010.

          Enjoy your last gasps, leftist. Your time is almost over.

          I got to try some more of the lefty hyperbole in the reverse, okay here goes:

          “What we need in this country is a partition, like Pakistan and India. Then, you can do as you please without opposition. Get all the leftists in one place and let them bankrupt themselves.”

          Ooooh, felt good! Now I see why you guys do that.

    • Anonymous

      beautiful comment. thank you for this! (& got rid of the troll, fyi)

      • Bob Higgins

        Thanks. He was quite hemorrhoidal.

        • Anonymous

          definitely. i’m sure he was a regular CleanTechnica reader, not just someone popping in to cause trouble and spew as many falsehoods as possible.

          • Bob Higgins

            There’s an uncomfortably large population of these vermin where ever you travel on the net. I doubt they even read the posts they comment on, just shovel some talking point manure and collect their nickle.

            We need a virtual pesticide for the electronic aether.

          • Anonymous

            Great analogies. So true. Even much worse over on Planetsave, where we write a lot about global warming. And many bots set up to spread the nonsense. I have to moderate every comment over there. This guy seemed like an actual human, but clearly not here for the content.

            Thanks for chiming in and responding a bit. Tiring doing it mostly alone or with the help of one our two real CleanTechnica readers.

          • Bob Higgins

            I read your newsletter, just realized that you are an editor at CT.

            I’d like to submit an occasional essay?

  • Anonymous

    “Well I guess some things are just more important than others.”

    Those other things that are important, like the wars, could be over tomorrow if the Obama decided to quit them, and the jobs thing is in the dems court, too. I mean they have spent 100′s of billions on stimulus, right? For zero result, yes?

    This vote to kill the funds was something a lot of Americans wanted, my self included, after using the cfl’s. I DO use them, but for outside applications where I leave the light on all night to discourage prowlers in the rural area I live in. I don’t like the effect of the cfl’s indoors for ambiance or reading.

    What makes it sweet, though, is that it pisses off the left. After see how they acted in Wisconsin these past nine months shows that the best possible thing for the country at large is to keep them out of power. 2012 and Obama’s retirement can’t come soon enough.

    And if the U.S. is about to lose it’s credit rating, blame Obama, Dodd, Frank, and Waters.

    • Tina Casey

      Clench: Please re-read my post and then provide some additional insight regarding your preference for incandescent bulbs. I did mention that U.S. manufacturers have developed updated, high-efficiency incandescent bulbs in response to the 2007 legislation, which was signed into law by former President Bush with the support of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, so there are alternatives to CFLs and LEDs for people who would like to continue using incandescent light bulbs. Also, I don’t see how “it pisses off the left” is a reasonable guide for determining whether or not any particular legislation serves the common good, so I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that as well.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, tons of B.S. here. troll?

      1) stimulus funds have created millions upon millions of jobs. the extremely
      deep recession Bush put us in is not nearly as deep and we didn’t end up
      completely crashing. the clean, green economy now employs more workers than
      the fossil fuel industry. wonder how that happened?

      more jobs were created in 2010 than in Bush’s entire 8 years of presidency.

      2) “a lot of Americans wanted” the energy efficient light bulb legislation
      repealed. B.S. a lot compared to what?.. not compared to the number who
      wanted it left in place. $12.5 billion in savings for consumers — who
      doesn’t want to save money. You don’t have to buy CFLs! There are energy
      efficient incandescents now and LEDs that are available as well! & i’ve got
      a house full of CFLs — they are no different from incandescents in light
      quality from what i can tell. maybe you are using some old version or
      something. try again.

      3) the rest is just pure B.S. yes, democrats were pissed that the Tea Party
      sacrificed people’s jobs and benefits for multi-billionaire dollar Tea Party
      leaders. that’s a problem?

      we were driven into this crisis from 8 years of Bush as president. if you
      want the crisis to go back in that direction, vote the multi-billionaires
      should get everything while working class people suffer line

      • Grey1234fox

        You and VP Biden love to count jobs that were never created. One point that everyone seems to ignore is the fact that these new “energy” bulbs contain mercury which means we now present a problem years down the roar when we put all these Chinese made mercury bombs in our land fills. We need energy efficient light bulbs, the one’s that are on the market do not fill that need when you look at the directions on the box on how to dispose, or haven’t you taken time to read the warnings?
        Don Barry a republican installing clean energy, not just writing about it

        • Anonymous

          the mercury in the bulbs, no matter how cautious the instructions encourage
          you to be, is less concerning than the mercury in your tuna sandwich and
          even less concerning than the mercury and other pollution to worry about
          from burning more coal for electricity.

          • Anonymous

            This would be a good place to paste the smokestack graphic.

            I’ve seen nothing that gets close to presenting the facts as well as that one picture does.

          • Anonymous

            you mean in the post? (the graph is in the link above, & don’t see an option for just posting the image.) i agree, that is the best presentation of the issue i’ve seen.

        • Wahlink

          Although CFL’s do contain some mercury, LED bulbs do not and are even more efficient than CFL’s. Funny I don;t seem to recall people caring one bit about the mercury in fluorescent tube lighting that have been used in office buildings and kitchens for a long long time. The fact is more mercury is produced from dirty coal power plants and released into the food supply than all the CFL’s combined. Energy efficiency is the future so deal with it.

          Also, for anyone still griping about light quality by CFL’s or even LEDs there are many more options available in 2011 than there were back when the initial push to modernize began some 10 years ago. Its worth revisiting and giving a second chance. One can easily find CFLs and LED that are 2700-2800 K warmth that easily match the light quality that people love about incandescents.

          here’s one example of bulbs I’ve used for a few years :

          Home depot even has decent options for LEDs although last I checked the lighting was still at roughly 3,000 K slightly more than 2700K ones listed above.

      • Anonymous

        Wow, tons of BS from another of the left’s useful idiots.

        Citing made-up statistics from lefty websites doesn’t do anything for your claims, it’s like asking pig farmers if the nation should eat more pork.

        On your number 2, looks to me like I don’t have to buy any of that stuff, because the funding that enforces the elimination of the incandescent bulbs has been removed.

        You did remind me that I was getting low on light bulbs, so I ordered a couple cases from Amazon. I don’t think I am going to be buying any of those $30.00 LED’s earthled, that’s for sure.

        Most Americans don’t give a rat’s butt about the lefty agenda anymore, not if it’s going to cost them anything at all.

        What happened with cap and trade again? Actually, I was sort of hoping that the Dems would have got that through, ’cause it would have sealed their fate in 2012, coupled with Obama care. Pity, that.

        When the lefty leaders like Gore and Friedman have houses the size of Delaware and run around in DC-10 personal aircraft with 6 people on-board. Then you have the Baracky, taking Air Force 1 and all the support aircraft and limousines, etc, out to go campaigning for re-election donations – burning thousands of gallons of expensive fuel on the tax payer’s dime while NOT doing his job, which, come to think of it, he hasn’t done much of since all this hopey, changey bulls*** he manufactured got him elected.

        This green bs is a lot like the dems on taxes – they like to impose them, they just don’t like to actually pay them – how many of Obama’s appointees have evaded tax again?

        I’ll begin to take this green stuff seriously when people like Tom Friedman actually live their life by the principles they spout that the rest of us should follow. Friedman and Gore are a couple creepy dudes on top of being liars and hypocrites.

        On your number 3, when the tax payers see that property taxes hold the line or go down by removing collective bargaining from public employee unions, who have been showering the democrats with campaign cash for 50 years in return for generous salaries, pension, health care and short work weeks, they will ask for more property tax reduction and finally perhaps we can remove the parasites from the public jugular.

        The left is losing, dude, and it isn’t going to get better for them. The next ten years are going to be economically depressed, so the public is not going to look favorably on anything that costs them more money

        You guys better hope that the O’s luck holds, ’cause if he loses in 2012, the EPA will be either begging for dimes on the street or shut down.

        You may wanna find another “cause” to get involved with, young feller. How about world peace?

    • Tina Casey

      Clench, thank you for joining the conversation. I appreciated your comment regarding the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs outdoors, and I hope that inspires some of our readers who don’t like fluorescent bulbs on general principle to try them out, too. I never did like fluorescent lights but about four years ago I started using them in my basement, since I didn’t spend too much time down there, and I was soon charmed by their lack of need for changing. So I went ahead and put fluorscents in everything all over the house, and it sure makes a big difference not having to climb up and down on chairs every few months changing this or that burnt out bulb. A nice ivory colored lampshade gives you that incandescent look if you find fluorescents a bit too bright for reading or indoor ambiance. As for your other thoughts, I don’t get how “it pisses off the left” is a reasonable measure of whether or not a piece of federal legislation benefits the common good.

  • Anonymous

    Why are we burning more energy (pun intended) on this issue?! They just need to look at the numbers: The average American household will save $85 per year in energy costs by switching to fluorescent bulbs. That’s enough savings to buy 58 of the new bulbs in just the first year, and the bulbs last about 10 times longer, so for the next 20 or so years, every household is saving $85 every year. And with incandescent bulbs, they would have to replace bulbs as they burn out, costing even more. It’s not only cheaper for every American household, but it also adds up to huge energy savings for the country as a whole – reducing our dependence on foreign energy, and lowering the cost of energy as a whole.

    I always show my math:
    Home Depot has a 4-pk of 60-watt fluorescent bulbs for $5.85, so $1.46 per bulb, which is $1.09 more than incandescents at 4 for $1.50. Fluorescent bulbs will reduce the average American household’s energy by about 7%, or $85 per year over incandescent bulbs ( – the equivalent of 58 fluorescent bulbs at $1.46 ea.

    So I don’t know if it’s a political ploy to keep us more dependent on fossil fuel energy & the huge corporate profits they bring in, or just some ideological fight by the Republicans to keep the government out of everything, but the switch to fluorescent bulbs is a win for everyone, no matter how you look at it — that is, if you’re willing to look at the numbers.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the thorough comment. It seems to be because the GOP leadership
      wants to oppose energy efficiency and clean energy whenever possible, no
      matter how nonsensical it is.

      Thanks for the math :D

      On Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Disqus <

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