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Jackpot: NV Light Bulb Efficiency Standards Save $85 Million

Nevada residents and businesses just hit the jackpot in energy and pollution savings because the Governor’s Office of Energy today adopted minimum energy efficiency standards for new light bulbs. As of January 1, 2021, every common screw-based bulb sold in the state, either in a store or purchased via the internet, must be an energy efficient one.

Casino lights in Nevada

Unsplash/Sean Lee

The estimated annual savings in 2025, according to a 2019 analysis by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, will really add up:

  • Statewide electricity bill savings will be more than $85 million;
  • Average Nevada household electricity bill savings will reach $80; and
  • 280,000 metric tons of global-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution—equal to a year’s emissions from 60,000 gas-powered cars—will be prevented.

What’s the back story?

The 2007 federal energy bill called EISA (Energy Independence Security Act) laid out an orderly plan to phase out national sales of new inefficient incandescent and halogen light bulbs by Jan. 1, 2020. It included special provisions for California and Nevada because they already had light bulb efficiency standards on the books. Now that the U.S. Department of Energy has failed to implement the national standards as required by law, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy just cashed in its insurance policy and adopted a 45 lumen per watt (LPW) standard (lumens are the amount of light produced and watts the power consumed), which the current incandescent and halogen bulbs on the market do not meet so most Nevadans will be buying LED bulbs next year. California adopted similar regulations and they went into effect flawlessly on Jan. 1, 2020.

How did Nevada do it?

On May 17, 2019, Nevada Assembly Bill 54 (AB54) was signed into law and set the 45 LPW minimum standard for general service lamps (GSLs, which are more commonly known as everyday light bulbs) offered for sale in the state. The law also required the Office of Energy to come up with a proposed regulatory definition for GSLs, which it did in July 2020.   

The definition adopted today reflects consensus input and support from the Nevada Resorts Association (NRA), which represents the state’s leading hotels and casinos, NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council), and the Nevada Conservation League. The proposal contains a list of primarily commercial lighting products exempted from the regulations to address the NRA’s concerns about the performance or availability of compliant lamps for certain niche applications in the hospitality and casino industries. Each of these exempted bulb models has very low sales volumes and energy use. 

What does today’s action mean for consumers?

Once the new regulations go into effect on Jan. 1, Nevadans will continue to have a wide range of bulbs to choose from. As today’s incandescents and halogen bulbs are unable to meet the 45 lumen per watt minimum, consumers will choose between LED bulbs and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and will most likely purchase the LEDs due to their superior energy savings and longer lifetime.

For those who might not be as familiar with LED light bulbs, rest assured that they deliver the same amount of light as the old bulbs but use only a fraction of the energy. For example, the LED light bulb that replaces the old fashioned 60-watt incandescent bulb only uses 10 watts. In addition, the LED bulb lasts at least 10 times longer, saving the user the hassle and cost of annual light bulb replacements. In many cases, LEDs deliver $25 to $100 worth of savings over the bulb’s lifetime when accounting for its energy savings and all the extra incandescents that won’t need to be purchased.

Today, there is a LED light bulb for virtually every socket in the home, whether it’s the bulb inside your table or bedside lamp, the reflector bulb for the recessed can in the ceiling, the round globe bulb in the bathroom vanity, or the flame/candle shaped bulb in the chandelier or hallway sconce. These bulbs give off great light and are often dimmable too!

Where no efficient replacement exists, such as the appliance bulb that goes into your extremely hot oven, the regulations allow the continued sale of those conventional incandescent bulbs.

A good bet for Nevada

As a result of this forward-looking policy, Nevada will have some of the most advanced lighting in the country. So, whether you own a business in Nevada, live here, or are just visiting, you can rest assured that the light bulbs in every home, hotel, and casino will be efficient ones. That’s good for the economy and the environment too.

Kudos to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy for adopting these common-sense standards and the hotels and casinos for backing them. If only the U.S. Department of Energy would see the light, too, so we could all share in the winnings.

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Noah Horowitz's picture

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