The Energy Committee of the Senate is working on a bill, which may hit the Senate floor later this month, that will ask the federal government to set national standards for energy efficiency. A coalition of consumer groups and manufacturers is now trying to come up with standards for lighting to support that goal. Among the ideas being discussed is phasing out standard incandescent bulbs over the course of about a decade.
The move builds on the momentum to phase out incandescent bulbs, which are less expensive but consume far more power than do compact fluorescent bulbs,and systems that .
In February, California Assemblyman
There are about 4 billion screw-in sockets containing incandescent bulbs in the United States, according to a spokesman for the Energy Committee. Incandescent bulbs are also incredibly inefficient.
Some researchers estimate that more than 90 percent of the energy that goes into these bulbs Easy-Bake ovens work. (Some incandescent-lightbulb fans like to claim that the bulbs help heat their home, but it's a fairly inefficient way to heat a room. Ceiling lamps, after all, end up heating the ceiling.), not light. That's why
Approximately 22 percent of the energy consumed in the United States goes toward lighting, according to the Department of Energy. Approximately 52 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is produced by coal. The hope is that thewill lead to the need to burn less coal or build fewer new coal plants.
If legislation is passed, the most likely immediate beneficiaries will be manufacturers of compact fluorescent bulbs, those curlicue bulbs promoted by retailers like Wal-Mart Stores. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost more, but they use about 25 percent of the energy of an equivalent incandescent.
LED manufacturers, though, would likely benefit too. LED bulbs are actually somewhat rare right now, and they cost significantly more than regular lightbulbs. LED lamps, though, are coming down in price. Advocates also say the quality of light is better than what's available from fluorescents.
But don't count out incandescent bulbs completely. General Electric says it plans to come out with incandescent
Some manufacturers actually make all of these types of lights.
Then there are the more novel ideas.for lighting freezer cases in stores with fiber-optic cables. Other companies have come up with , or OLEDs, that could turn an entire wall into a lamp.
Legislation banning products has often come under fire from some politicians and economists, but it has worked. In the mid-1970s, appliance manufacturers vigorously fought energy efficiency.
The regulations passed and led to a creative wellspring in appliance design. Now refrigerators consume less than half the electricity of older models but hold more food and cost less, in terms of real dollars.