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Making Sense of the DOE's Incandescent Rollback Proposal

G25 Light, DOE, GSL, GSIL

               The proposed changes to the DOE’s energy efficiency standards are predictably being spun both ways. The proposal involves changes to the definitions of what a general service lamp (GSL) or general service incandescent lamp (GSIL) is. As the law stands now, certain ‘old-school’ incandescent light bulbs that were exempt from all previous regulations would now be subject to current efficiency standards. The types of incandescent lamps that are affected AND are most likely to be found inside your home include certain globe shape light bulbs most commonly used in bathroom mirrors, candelabra light bulbs (most likely in chandeliers and/or wall sconces) and certain reflector light bulbs (most commonly used in recessed lighting or outside flood fixtures).


            If you’ve already switched out these light bulbs then congratulations are in order as you have voluntarily complied with your government’s standards well ahead of time (2020) and I bet you didn’t even know! But if you were determined to let every last one of your stockpiled traditional incandescent globe, reflector or candelabra bulbs burn out then congratulations are also in order for you as if this definition change proposal goes through then you’ll be able to continue to use these bulbs without having to fear the Federal Light Bulb Police banging down the door.


            I’ve seen some wild figures being thrown about (2.7 billion sockets affected…cost to consumers in the tens of billions etc.). These figures are being thrown around on both sides (both in support of and against the change in definition). I don’t know that I can get on board with some of these generated statistical numbers. I do think the commercial industry (hotels, restaurants, etc.) will be impacted more than the average homeowner. While this may have some implications on the manufacturing side of things for light bulb makers I don’t think it will have any major ripple effects if this passes. Most manufacturers already offer LED replacements in these categories and are working on improving the technology (there are some really cool 300W equal LED bulbs coming!). I also think that most folks will continue to do what you’re doing right now…going on about your day and not really considering that you may or may not arbitrarily be ‘forced’ to change a light bulb that was already more than likely replaced with an LED anyway. Sounds like our government at its finest, right?