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The lightbulb revolution has just begun

New lightbulbs are more efficient than ever before, but there’s controversy

Lately, there’s been a lot of heat over the simple lightbulb. Over the past decade, manufacturers raced to make their lightbulbs more efficient. The competition helped people save both energy and money — and the environment got a pretty big boost, too. But not everyone’s a fan of all that innovation.

A more efficient bulb “doesn’t make you look as good,” President Donald Trump has argued multiple times over the past year. “Being a vain person, that’s very important to me,” he joked at the White House in December. Vanity aside, his position is that consumers ought to be able to purchase whatever kind of lightbulb they want, even if it’s one that uses a lot of energy.

Old-school incandescent lightbulbs, which waste a ton of energy, were set to be pretty much phased out of stores by 2020, thanks to efficiency standards signed into law by former President George W. Bush. But all that changed when Trump rolled back those standards this year.

“America’s setting itself up, believe it or not, to become the dumping ground of the world for all these inefficient incandescents,” Noah Horowitz, who works on energy efficiency at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, tells The Verge.

We shed some light on what makes these bulbs different from each other and what Trump’s decision could mean for the future.