Monday numbers: Another not-so-bright idea from the Trump administration

Monday numbers: Another not-so-bright idea from the Trump administration

- in Environment, Top Story
Trump photo, Creative Commons; photo illustration Lisa Sorg

DOE to roll back rules on energy-efficient light bulbs

Methane, coal ash, tailpipe emissions, toxic releases, pesticides, endangered species: Since President Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has rolled back — or is in the process of rolling back — 84 environmental rules that help make our air, water and land safer, and our planet more resilient to climate change.

Make that 85 rules. The Trump administration announced last week it is taking on a new nemesis: the light bulb.

The Department of Energy announced last week that it would not enact rules that would have ultimately phased out the sale of halogen and incandescent bulbs in specialty fixtures, such as appliances, bathroom vanities and chandeliers, and replaced them with energy efficient LEDs.

The rules were scheduled to go into effect in January 2020.

The standards were established during the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. By switching to LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs, households could save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change.

Bloomberg News quoted President Trump as saying, “What’s saved is not worth it, for the little they save.” The cost of energy-efficient lighting and the burden on consumers, Trump said, didn’t justify the savings.

It’s easy to find LEDs and CFLs. Shelves at home improvement stores are stacked with these bulbs, as well as some incandescent varieties. Consumers can also get a limited number of free bulbs from Duke Energy.

While energy-efficient lights are more expensive upfront, they last five to 25 times longer than than incandescent bulbs, significantly reducing the cost per bulb. Because of the bulbs’ longevity, consumers buy fewer of them, much to the chagrin of bulb manufacturers, who support the rollback. 

6 billion — Estimated number of light bulbs in use in the US

3 billion — Estimated number of light bulbs affected by the rule rollback

$14 billion — Savings to US consumers by 2025, by switching to energy-efficient bulbs

6%  Amount of energy usage saved nationwide by using LEDs and CFLs

1/5 — Amount of energy an LED bulb uses compared with an incandescent bulb

750-2,000 — Lifespan in hours, of an incandescent bulb

2,000-4,000 — Of a halogen bulb

8,000-10,000 — Of a screw-in CFL

40,000- 50,000 — Of an LED

$2.45  — Average cost of an energy-efficient bulb*

$1.25 — Of an incandescent bulb*

$10.95 — Annual energy cost of an incandescent bulb

$2.56 — Of a CFL

$1.83 — Of an LED

* Assuming the light is on five hours a day at 10 cents per kilowatt hour

Sources: Natural Resources Defense Council,