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As California’s Landmark Clean Lighting Bill Comes into Force, Here’s What You Need to Know

In September 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the AB2208 bill into law. Also known as the clean lighting bill, this landmark announcement has had climate, worker safety, and public health activists celebrating.

What exactly does this new law entail? And what are its implications for homeowners, business owners, and those who work in energy consulting services?

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is the Clean Lighting Bill?

Under the landmark lighting bill, California will begin phasing out compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) starting in 2024.

The bill was proposed by Assembly Member Ash Kalra and Senator Josh Becker.

California became the second state—after Vermont—to pass the clean lighting bill. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate the safety issues that have been linked to CFLs. While Vermont has banned 4-foot LFLs from 2024 onward, California went a step further and included lamps up to 8 feet in its phase-out.

In 2021, the European Union passed a similar law, with 137 governments voting to phase out CFLs by 2025.

What Is the Clean Lighting Bill

The Problem with CFLs

So why is the banning of CFLs considered one of the most landmark energy optimization solutions in California and worldwide? To understand this, let’s look at these lights and why they are harmful.

When CFLs were first introduced, they were considered a game-changer for environmentally friendly lighting. They were much more efficient than traditional halogen and incandescent lights and were designed to last a lot longer, thus generating less waste.

This made them one of the most popular lighting solutions in California.

But over time, CFLs fell out of favor, much like other traditional lighting solutions. Here’s why:

They Emit Harmful Radiation

Some studies have suggested that CFLs release small amounts of potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that is undetectable at first, but, over time, may be a cause of concern.

This radiation can cause dizziness and lead to eye strain with prolonged exposure. The light emitted also triggers headaches in those prone to migraines and other photosensitivity-related conditions.

Research carried out by Stony Brook University goes a step further and claims that the side effects of fluorescent light bulbs—in the worst case—could also include burnt skin cells, premature aging, or even skin cancer.

Side Effects of Fluorescent Light Bulbs

They Contain Toxins

Another reason for the phase-out of fluorescent light bulbs is the amount of toxins they contain. CFLs have mercury, which is released into the air when bulbs break.

Contact with mercury upon breaking is known to cause several health issues, especially for pregnant women. When bulbs aren’t disposed of properly, this mercury also finds its way into landfills, which pose a threat to the environment and workers who come into contact with it.

They Aren’t As Efficient Anymore

When fluorescent lights were first introduced, they showed great promise in combating the inefficiencies of traditional bulbs. However, the introduction of LEDs has delivered exponentially higher energy savings in comparison.

Most CFLs have a warm-up period of 10 to 30 seconds before they begin to work optimally, which means they are not very efficient. This is especially apparent when they are used on a large scale, such as dozens or hundreds of them illuminating an office space.

Frequently turning these lights on and off also reduces the lifespan of these bulbs—leading to more waste in the long run and less than optimal energy usage.

CFLs also emit omnidirectional light. This means they light up surrounding areas more brightly than the area just below, which isn’t very practical.

They’re Sensitive to Temperature Changes

Another drawback of fluorescent lights is that they tend to be dimmer in colder climates and heat up much faster when it’s warm. For these reasons, they aren’t the best choice to light up outdoor areas.

Fluorescent Lights Are Sensitive to Temperature Changes

The Solution: LEDs Light the Way

With fluorescent lights on their way out, LEDs are undoubtedly the future of lighting solutions in California. LED technology has existed since the 1960s, but it’s only in the last decade that people have begun to truly understand its benefits.

So, in what ways do LEDs outshine fluorescent bulbs?

Almost every characteristic of LEDs has proven to be better for the environment: they are cheaper, longer lasting, and the best choice above CFLs—LEDs are 80% more efficient than their fluorescent counterparts.

For a better idea of how this works, take a look at some of these figures:

LEDs convert 95% of their energy into light, expending only 5% as heat. In comparison, fluorescent lights convert 80% of their energy into light, while the rest becomes heat.

At the same time, LEDs require far less power to provide a consistent output. Advocates of the clean lighting bill say they only need about half the electricity.

LED lights also last five times longer than CFLs, meaning much less landfill waste. They don’t contain mercury, nor do they emit harmful UV radiation.

All in all, it’s easy to see why LEDs are being pushed as the natural successor to CFLs when discussing lighting in California and why the clean energy bill is such a landmark decision for the state.

LED technology

The Bottom Line

One of the sponsors of the clean lighting bill was quoted as saying that the new decision can cut California’s lighting bills by half and protect the state from rolling blackouts. But this would not be possible until more people know about this crucial bill.

So, as we begin to phase out CFLs, educating residents on energy optimization solutions in California and encouraging them to make the switch is more important than ever.

This is where NRG Incentives comes in. Our lighting company designs, manufactures and deploys custom lighting solutions to meet our clients’ needs. We offer our safe and efficient solutions for homes and commercial properties.

With the introduction of the clean lighting bill, our services can help you learn more about energy optimization projects in California and allow you to benefit from various utility outreach services as you make the switch to LEDs.

Contact NRG Incentives today and begin 2024 on a green note.


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