Team Lights the Way for Better Light Bulbs

August 19, 2022

Consumers will save nearly $3 billion per year on utility bills and carbon emissions will be cut drastically over the next 30 years, thanks to two new rules for light bulbs recently adopted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The implementation of these new standards for energy efficiency is a thrilling achievement for the DOE Appliance Standards Program, supported by the small yet mighty Appliance Standards Lighting Team in the Energy Efficiency Standards department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

For nearly a decade, the team conducted the complex research, modeling and analyses that laid the foundation for the updated light bulb efficiency standards. That meant:

  • Developing interconnected technical, economic and environmental analyses to understand and quantify consumer energy use and consumer choice when purchasing a new light bulb

  • Determining life-cycle cost impacts for consumers

  • Projecting sales of different light bulb technologies under different scenarios

  • Reviewing a host of impacts at the national level — from energy savings and net present value to emission reductions and associated health and social benefits

  • Modeling lightbulb lifetime based on rated life, sector-specific operating hours distributions, on-time cycle length, the use of controls, and renovation timelines

The complexity of the statutory requirements related to lighting efficiency standards is unmatched in any other product subject to federal standards, requiring the Lighting Team to maintain deep knowledge of ever-evolving legal constraints and a full spectrum of lamp types, technologies, applications and energy use. Not only were these some of the most sophisticated analyses ever performed by the team, they were also conducted as part of a public notice and comment process — which called for advanced, highly flexible tools and methodologies to ensure the team met every deadline while addressing input from a diverse group of stakeholders, from manufacturers and trade associations to the White House itself.

For Alison Williams, leader of Berkeley Lab's Energy Efficiency Standards department, the Lighting Team's research marks the latest step in fulfilling the Lab’s critical mission.

"Berkeley Lab is committed to delivering scientific breakthroughs that address sustainable energy, climate resilience, environmental quality and economic competitiveness," Williams said. "The integrated research conducted by the Appliance Standards Lighting Team epitomizes the achievement of these objectives — helping to deliver significant cost savings to American households and cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons.

"The Lighting Team’s work is a testament to Berkeley Lab's position as a world leader for studying and modeling the complex landscape of lighting regulations and the evolution of lighting markets and technologies. Not only will Americans realize tremendous value from this work, it will help inform other government agencies around the world as they develop new standards of energy efficiency for their communities."

Team members (pictured, left to right, top to bottom) are: Colleen Kantner, Mohan Ganeshalingam, Robert Hosbach, Liat Zavodivker, Evan Neill and Brian Gerke.
More information about the new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs and the benefits they'll provide is available on the Department of Energy's website.