California sets new LED standards; promises huge long-term benefits

January 30
1:55 AM 2016

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission (CEC) announced new standards for energy efficiency for household light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and other smaller light bulbs. This step not only made California the pioneer, it also promises huge benefits in the form of savings in utility bills coupled with the longevity of LEDs.

The new standards have updated requirements for the small diameter directional bulbs that are 2.25 inches in diameters or less, as per US News. They are most commonly found in hotels, museums, and stores for track-lighting purposes. The CEC reports say that currently 16 million of such bulbs are in use in the state. In short, they will be soon replaced by their LED counterparts.

Given energy efficiency is the top priority, the LEDs need to meet minimum requirements - certain color rendition and minimum lifeline of 25,000 hours - when they hit the markets for sale from January 1, 2018. However, as stated in Future Structure, CEC said, "additional amendments to strengthen efficiency and limit power in standby mode" take effect from July 1, 2019.

The main complaint of the customers regarding LEDs revolves around the cost. A standard LED price will range from $5 to $10 depending on its functionalities, which is definitely more expensive than the traditional bulbs. But the plus point would be, in the long run, the consumers would get their returns in the form of energy savings.

For instance, the old traditional bulbs with 50 watts of electricity and a life span of 2500-5000 hours will now make way for 10-watt LED bulbs lasting almost 25,000 hours. The new bulbs will not lack any features that were there for the ones they replaced.  They can be dimmed and maneuvered to get wider or narrower beam of light. So while the LEDs may require more up-front payment, it ultimately enables the users to save more than $200 over its lifespan.

According to NRDC Switchboard, the new regulations should reduce the household electricity bills by more than $400 million a year, as well as prevent emission of more than 10 million cumulative tons of carbon dioxide between 2018 and 2029 from the power plants. It should also save electricity twice as much it is consumed by Oakland every year. 

As California is the first state to lay out the new standards, its model with regard to traditional bulbs versus LEDs should ideally prompt other states to adopt similar measures. This is only possible once the pioneer state showcases the huge impact this simple standard brings about in the energy sector. If most leading states follow suit with, eventually, the US Department of Energy in tow, its implementation at a national level would reap tremendous benefits. The US will end up saving around $2.5 billion a year on electricity bills alone.

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