Conservation Think Tank: News, Ideas and Solutions for Energy and Water Company Thought Leaders

Will EISA Affect CFL & LED Bulb Purchases?

In this day of dwindling fossil fuel reserves and limited resource allocation toward renewable energy, there are a wide range of programs and efforts aimed at improving energy efficiency. Methodologies as complex as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings for buildings, or as simple as turning off lights or unplugging devices, are high in the public’s consciousness.

But one very simple consideration that stands to make a very large impact on energy consumption is commonly overlooked by consumers and businesses: light bulbs. Now that the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) is in full effect, some are concerned that purchases of energy efficient lighting will lag.


Light Bulbs

In homes and some offices, you can generally find one of three types of light bulbs: incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and LED light bulbs. AM Conservation Group is providing this useful information about different types of light bulbs to help educate your customers about the importance of choosing energy efficient lighting.


Incandescent bulbs run electricity through a filament, usually tungsten, to create light. Halogen bulbs are tungsten-filament incandescent bulbs with the addition of a halogen material, commonly iodine or bromine; the halogen deposits evaporated tungsten back onto the filament, extending the bulb’s life.

CFLs run electricity through vaporized mercury producing ultraviolet light, which in turn reacts with phosphor on the glass of the bulb to create visible light. LEDs run electricity through a solid semiconductor diode, forcing loose electrons into electron holes, which creates photon energy.

When your customers are looking to purchase energy efficient lighting, they should look for ENERGY STAR® rated bulbs. This is indicated by the ENERGY STAR label on the packaging. This certification means that the product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The table below compares these three types of bulbs using three important metrics:

  • Power draw — the amount of power, in watts, required to operate
  • Electrical efficiency — the percent of the power drawn that is converted to light, as opposed to heat
  • Luminous efficacy — the number of lumens a bulb creates per each watt of power drawn; a lumen is a measure of light as perceived by the human eye

The value ranges in the table reflect the differences between the wattages of incandescent bulbs most commonly found in homes, from 40 to 100 watts. The values are approximate.


The benefits of CFL and LED lamps are clear: They require less power than incandescent bulbs, and they use that power more efficiently to create more light than incandescent bulbs. In addition to their lifespans, which tend to be much longer, these factors make CFL and LED lamps much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than incandescent bulbs.

In addition to all of those benefits, virtually every state offers energy efficiency incentive programs to help make CFL and LED bulbs more affordable for everyday consumers.

AM Conservation Group’s home state of South Carolina, for example, offers a number of efficiency programs that include lighting improvements. They are offered through Duke Energy, South Carolina Electric and Gas, and the state-owned power company Santee Cooper. A number of smaller municipalities and cooperatives throughout the state also offer their own incentive programs. For a full list of incentive programs organized by state, visit the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website.

These incentive programs are usually categorized by product type. This year, there are 339 active incentives for LED lamps. LED programs account for 42% of all lighting incentives offered in the United States. CFL incentives account for another 42% while programs for string lights, ceiling fans, and other light-related products make up the remaining 16%.

This year, there are also interesting regional distributions of lighting incentive programs offered across the US. Bringing up the rear were the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest regions — each only had 44 active incentives. There are 95 programs active in the Northeast, 104 in the West, and an impressive 841 in the Midwest.

EISA Standards

In 2007, the 110th Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). EISA seeks to improve the United States’ energy independence through improvement of vehicular fuel economy, biofuel development, and energy efficiency in lighting.

The “Lighting Energy Efficiency” section of the bill requires an efficiency increase in light bulbs of 25 percent, scaled in between 2012 and 2014. According to the bill, incandescent bulbs previously drawing 40 watts had to draw no more than 29 watts and bulbs drawing 100 watts had to be reduced to 72 watts. The bill requires that, by 2020, incandescent bulbs be about 200% as efficient as they were in 2007.

Though technology has improved and many incandescent bulbs, utilizing halogen technology, have met the 25% improvement, the bill essentially banned traditional incandescent bulbs as they were available at the time. Currently, incandescent bulbs are advertised as up to 50% more energy efficient and are readily available in stores.

EISA Effect on CFL & LED Sales

The EISA has forced improvements in the energy efficiency of incandescent lighting. Has this increase in efficiency been enough to reduce the demand for more highly energy efficient CFL and LED bulbs, thereby negating the efficacy of government-subsidized incentive programs?

The results are in, and the answer is no.

Two planning and evaluation firms, Apex Analytics and NMR Group, jointly evaluated the effect of EISA on energy efficiency incentive program utilization. Apex and NMR collated data from 44 states over the course of five years before and during EISA implementation.

Their findings were that states that maintained incentive programs during EISA implementation saw significant increases in energy efficient CFL and LED bulbs; whereas states that eliminated incentives saw stagnation or declines in sales.

Despite improvements in incandescent and halogen bulbs spurred by EISA, government-funded energy efficiency incentive programs remain highly effective at boosting purchases of energy-efficient CFL and LED lighting. The incentives also produce enough energy savings to prevent utility companies from having to retrofit power plants or construct new ones.

The Future of Lighting

Even though the efficiency of incandescent bulbs have improved, CFL and LED bulbs are still more energy efficient. The fact is that no matter how efficient incandescent bulbs become, CFL and LED bulbs will always be more so — their technology advances as fast as incandescent and halogen technology, and they are becoming less expensive.

AM Conservation group has, among our selection of efficiency and conservation products, a comprehensive selection of CFL bulbs, LED bulbs, luminescent lights, CFL and LED compatible fixtures and lamps, and more.

To learn more about our energy efficient lighting solutions and other ways that your customers can reduce their energy consumption, download our free Energy Efficiency Packet today.