Lights Out for Residential Lighting Programs? Not Just Yet


LED light bulbs have transitioned from a fledgling technology to a major market player in recent years, with more than 450 million installednationwide as of 2016. With Americans increasingly choosing LEDs, and federal standards set to increase efficiency levels for general service lamps (the most common type of screw-in light bulbs) in January 2020, many utilities and regulators are wondering whether it is time to leave residential lighting programs behind as they plan for the coming 2019–2021 program years.

Do the upcoming standards mean residential lighting programs will no longer be cost-effective? Or can programs gain another year or two of savings by promoting efficient light bulbs, which have long been the mainstay of residential program portfolios? These questions are at the forefront of utility program planning and regulatory agendas in many states. We find that for 2019, utility programs can achieve savings in most states by continuing to run programs for the full range of LED lamps. But the picture is more complicated for 2020 and 2021, and regional differences will also matter.

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