Shedding Light on the Law of Unintended Consequences
The US Department of Energy has recently announced two new rules banning the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs starting in July 2022 and phasing in standards across industries over the following months. The Biden administration claims that this ban is a cost-saving measure that will “save consumers about $3 billion annually when fully implemented.” However, the net impact of this policy is unclear since the substitution of incandescents for LED lights comes with notable negative effects such as impaired sleep and consequently impaired productivity.
As the great economic columnist of the twentieth century Henry Hazlitt wrote, we must not look merely at the direct effects but also the indirect effects of a given policy change or individual choice.
It is worth mentioning that in 2020 about 70 percent of the general service lamp (GSL) market was LEDs while 30 percent was incandescents and halogens, and greater than two-thirds of that 30 percent share was incandescents. As the market share of LED bulbs has gone up yearly, the market volume has decreased, presumably due in large part to a lower need for replacement bulbs given LEDs’ longer-lasting nature.
However, LEDs and fluorescents emit much higher levels of blue light which inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which is important in the mornin
Article from Mises Wire