As the year came to a close, the nanny state took it in the chin. Plans by the usual suspects – environmentalists, Capitol Hill know-it-alls, and other assorted busybodies — to regulate the incandescent lightbulb out of existence were tossed aside by the Trump Energy Department (DOE).

In 2007, the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Bush White House teamed up to impose tighter energy efficiency standards for “general service” lightbulbs. The goal was to set federal energy efficiency standards so high that traditional incandescent lightbulbs would disappear from store shelves and be replaced by compact fluorescent and LED bulbs. People were assured this would save them zillions in electricity bills while saving the planet from catastrophic climate change.

Lightbulb manufacturers were given several years to comply with the government-mandated transition. For those pushing the scheme, consumer choice was never a consideration. Yet eleven days before stricter energy efficiency standards were to begin, effective Jan. 1, 2020, DOE announced the regulations “are not economically justified.”

Innovation and Technology, Not Government Overregulation

“Today the Trump Administration chose to protect consumer choice by ensuring that the American people do not pay the price for unnecessary overregulation from the federal government,” Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a statement. “Innovation and technology are already driving progress, increasing the efficiency and affordability of lightbulbs, without federal government intervention. The American people will continue to have a choice on how they light their homes.”

The new rule affects pair-shaped bulbs and a range of other forms of lighting, including three-way bulbs, cone-shaped reflector bulbs used in recessed and track lighting, candle-shaped bulbs used in chandeliers and sconces, and round globe-shaped bulbs used in bathroom fixtures.

People who use dimmers in their homes and offices should also be pleased, because all incandescent lightbulbs are dimmable. LED lightbulbs also work on dimmers, but only if you have dimmable LED bulbs.

DOE said in its analysis that bringing traditional incandescent lightbulbs up to higher efficiency standards would triple the cost of bulbs.

“The increase is not economically justified because the bulbs do not last long enough for the energy savings to surpass the higher upfront price,” DOE noted.

Undoing Past Mistakes with Toilets and Dishwashers

Americans have already paid dearly for government meddling in household appliances and fixtures. Under previous administrations, the Energy Department mandated low-flow toilets that don’t flush properly, wasting an enormous amount of water. It also issued “energy efficiency” standards for dishwashers. And how did that work out? Today’s dishwashers don’t clean dishes properly, forcing many people to run the machines a second time to get them clean. That wastes both water and electricity, driving up utility bills for consumers. The Trump administration is now undoing DOE’s screwing up the nation’s dishwashers by considering new, more sensible standards.

So, we begin 2020 with a tip of the hat to Thomas Edison, who gave us the first fully functional incandescent lightbulb in 1879. A constant tinkerer, his persistence and creativity improved the lives of millions of people the world over.


  • CFACT Ed

    CFACT -- We're freedom people.

  • Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

    Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.