Environmental Protection

DOE Says Goodbye to Incandescent Lighting

New national minimum energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by any administration, according to a coalition representing environmental and consumer organizations, state government, and utilities.

The new standards announced on June 29 will make the hundreds of millions of fluorescent tube lamps that light offices, stores, and factories more efficient. They also will phase out conventional incandescent reflector lamps, effectively extending the phase out of inefficient incandescent products initiated by Congress in 2007 to the common cone-shaped bulbs used in recessed light fixtures and track lighting.

The new lamp standards, which will take effect in 2012, will have little effect on the outward appearance or lighting performance of the affected light bulbs. For fluorescent lamps, highly efficient "T8" lamps (lamps with a 1-inch diameter) will replace "T12" lamps (which have a 1.5 -inch diameter). For reflector lamps, standard incandescent and halogen technology will be replaced with highly efficient halogen infrared reflector technology. In 2007, Congress enacted a phase out of standard incandescent light bulbs in favor of advanced incandescent technology and other high efficiency products starting in 2012.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), lighting uses nearly 40 percent of all electricity used in commercial buildings. The standards affect the more than 500 million fluorescent tube lamps and 265 million reflector lamps sold each year in the United States.

"This final standard is a substantial improvement on the draft standard released by the Department of Energy in the closing days of the Bush Administration," said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

According to DOE, the new standards will save up to 1.2 trillion kilowatt-hours over 30 years, an amount about equal to the total consumption of all homes in the United States in one year. Businesses and consumers will gain up to $35 billion in net savings and global warming carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by up to 594 million metric tons, an amount equal to the annual emissions of nearly 110 million cars.

"A flip of the switch may seem mundane but the way we light our homes and offices is a big chunk of our nation's energy use," said Lane Burt, Policy Analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "This standard starts cutting the huge energy and pollution costs that come with keeping the lights on."

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