It’s baffling that the light bulb provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“EISA”) has become such a hot-button topic.  This week, members of the House are expected to debate and perhaps vote on repealing the provision, which is technically a technology-neutral law.  It doesn’t mandate CFLs over incandescent lights, as suggested by some; it merely requires that certain lights be roughly 25% more efficient with about the same brightness and rated life.

In other words, pursuant to EISA, the 100-watt bulb will use 72 watts or less (by Jan. 1, 2012), the 75-watt bulb will use 53 watts or less (By Jan. 1, 2013), the 60-watt bulb will use 43 watts or less (by Jan. 1, 2014), and the 40-watt bulb will use 29 watts or less (by Jan. 1, 2014).

This is a performance standard — not a ban — that will result in a shift towards CFL and LED lighting, among other technologies.  Indeed, I prefer the new LEDs and old-fashioned daylighting, if available, but people will still be able to buy energy-saving incandescent lights.  These use halogen technology.

Considering the fact that about 11-12% of energy use in the average household is attributable to lighting, the standard will have a dramatic impact on energy use in the US.  Overall, consumers will save about $6 billion a year from the EISA standard, according to Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu.

But it’s not just that consumers will save money.  Manufacturers widely support EISA, so it must be good for business, too.

In an blog published on, Chu continued: “The standards help us meet America’s energy needs while also saving people money. It’s a win-win approach that just makes sense.“  He compares the standard to energy-saving improvements applied to refrigerator technology.  Fridge improvements save families about $150 per year, he says.

But what’s your perspective?  Let the market decide?  Set a minimum standard?  Will the repeal of EISA light bulb provisions stall innovation?  Or hurt US businesses?  Is this a matter of choice?  Or how energy is used?

[+] Understand the various EISA-compliant lighting options.