New Light Bulb Standards Survive Challenge

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    Remember Liz Crenshaw's report on the government's new light bulb standards?  After a contentious debate in Congress, they are here to stay.

    The new standards, signed into law by President George Bush, say that starting next January, light bulbs will have to meet a minimum efficiency standard.  Research shows that the incandescent light bulb, what people think of as the "classic" bulb, actually produce less light than heat, and will be phased out by the new rules.

    New Bulb Business

    [DC] New Bulb Business
    Liz Crenshaw explains the new federal standard for light bulbs and what this means for consumers. (Published Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011)

    A spokesperson from the Alliance to Save Energy told Liz Crenshaw those incandescents waste 90 percent of the energy they consume.  

    There are a number of light bulbs on the market now that use different technologies to achieve the higher standards - those curly compact fluorescents, referred to as CFLs, halogen bulbs, and light emitting diodes, or LED's.

    The Department of Energy says that although the new technology bulbs cost more than incandescents, they use much less energy over the long-term.  CFLs easily pay themselves back in reduced household energy costs.

    But a number of conservative opponents challenged the bill as an assault on the rights of consumer to choose, characterizing the standards as a “Big Brother” like intrusion.

    "Now the government wants to tell consumers what type of light bulb they use to read, cook, watch television or light their garage," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.  Republican presidential hopeful Michelle Bachmann has also spoken critically about the new law.

    The Obama administration says the revised lighting standards will save nearly $6 billion in 2015 alone. The Energy Department says upgrading 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in a home could save a homeowner $50 a year.  The Department says lighting accounts for about 10 percent of home electricity use.

    The new standards were written in 2007, with Republican participation.

    Four of Thomas Edison's descendants said the inventor would be mortified to see politicians trying to get the nation to hang on to an outdated technology when better bulbs are available, the AP reported.

    A bill introduced by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, that would overturn the new standards, did not receive enough votes on Tuesday to take affect.