Bright idea for bulbs

Published 7:17 pm Thursday, July 14, 2011

Proponents of more energy efficient light bulbs say they are a step in the right direction toward American energy independence, but opponents say the bulbs are too expensive. At the Lowe’s on North Main Street, some energy efficient bulbs are six times the price of incandescent with equivalent wattage.

Former senator, energy secretary say light bulb standards step in right direction

This week, the House of Representatives voted down a repeal of energy standards to make light bulbs more energy efficient, a move that former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said continues America’s momentum in the energy race.

Warner, who was part of the bipartisan effort that got the 2007 act passed, said the government needs to continue its efforts to make America more energy independent and repealing the energy legislation would be a step in the wrong direction.

“We’re going to lose momentum,” he said in a phone conference Friday. “We’ll be dropping backward in America’s race to be more energy efficient.”

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The part of the legislation that was up to be repealed included standards that would have begun phasing out incandescent light bulbs in January.

Warner, who served on the Senate’s energy committee, said even though light bulbs are a small part of the country’s energy, they are symbolic to a committee to be more energy efficient.

“This is highly symbolic because every single American today and tomorrow is going to be relying on a light bulb,” he said.

The U.S Department of Energy projects the light bulb standards will save the country $12.5 million a year by the time they are fully implemented in 2020.

Energy secretary Steven Chu said these standards are in place to help American families save money.

He said in the phone conference that people should not be concerned that energy efficient light bulbs will not look the same as the incandescent bulbs they are familiar with.

“They look and feel the same,” Chu said. “The only difference is they will help American consumers save money. If you like your incandescent bulbs, you’ll like these even more.”

He said one household can save $50 every year by replacing 15 light bulbs with more energy efficient ones.

Chu compared the 2007 act’s light bulb standards to the ones that were implemented in the 1970s for refrigerators.

He said those standards not only saved energy, but they also resulted in bigger fridges that work on less energy.

Many opponents of the light bulb standards have argued the new rules take away choice for consumers and force them to buy energy efficient light bulbs that are more expensive than incandescent bulbs.

Chu said although it seems like the bulbs are more expensive because their price tags are higher, using the more energy efficient bulbs will save Americans more money over time.

“We have to meet the criteria that we’re not adding costs,” he said.

Chu added the Energy Department expects the cost of the bulbs to drop dramatically over the next few years.

“With the standards, you actually simulate these products to be much, much cheaper,” Chu said. “It helps the economy; it helps their pocketbooks; it helps everything.”

He said the only choice these standards limits is the choice that “continues to let people waste their own money.”

For more information on energy efficient lighting, visit