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California Setting New Standard For Light Bulbs

January 3, 2011

California has become the first state in the country to require a new standard for screw-base light bulbs.

Experts say that the new rules, which took effect New Year’s Day, will save residents money and energy.  California is already the nation’s leader in energy-efficiency standards.

According to Tracy Seipel of San Jose Mercury News, “As of Saturday, what used to be a 100-watt light bulb manufactured and sold in California will have to use 72 watts or less. The 72-watt replacement bulb, also called an energy-saving halogen light, will provide the same amount of light, called lumens, for lower energy cost.”

Traditional 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will go experience a similar fate in California over the next few years, with wattages reduced to 53, 43 and 29.

The new rule does not ban incandescent light bulbs, but it does require those bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient.

Currently, the ban only affects incandescent light bulbs manufactured in 2011 or later.

The new lights are comparably priced to the regular incandescent lights.

“The 72-watt bulb is improving Edison’s original idea,” Adam Gottlieb, a spokesman for the California Energy Commission, told Seipel.

“Consumers will still have the amount of light they need for the task at hand,” said Gottlieb. “But they’ll see lower electricity bills.”

Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the new regulation “a great thing for consumers.”

He played a key role in the development and passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

“The 125-year-old incandescent light bulb is far and away the least efficient product in our homes, because 90 percent of the electricity is wasted as heat,” Horowitz told Seipel.

The new standard will become nationwide on January 1, 2012 after Congress passed it in 2007 and it was signed by President George W. Bush.

California’s energy commission said the state’s move will avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs this year and save consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills.

Gottlieb said that the standard also will reduce air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants.

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