The Biden administration is preparing to implement a sweeping nationwide ban on incandescent light bulbs as part of its energy efficiency and climate agenda. The Department of Energy (DOE) finalized regulations in April 2022 that prohibit retailers from selling incandescent and similar halogen light bulbs in favor of light-emitting diode (LED) alternatives.
The regulations will go into effect on August 1, 2023, and are estimated to save consumers $3 billion per year on utility bills and cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next three decades.
While U.S. households have increasingly switched to LED light bulbs since 2015, fewer than half of households reported using mostly or exclusively LEDs, according to the most recent results from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
LEDs are also more popular in higher-income households, meaning the energy regulations will particularly impact lower-income Americans. The DOE introduced separate rules in December banning compact fluorescent bulbs, paving the way for LEDs to be the only legal light bulbs to purchase.
Critics of the regulations argue that further regulatory interference in the marketplace is unwarranted, given that more energy-efficient lighting choices such as LED bulbs are already available.
A coalition of free-market and consumer groups opposed to incandescent bulb bans wrote in a comment letter to the DOE that consumers are best served by retaining the choice between incandescent bulbs and LEDs rather than regulating incandescent bulbs off the market.