Washington, D.C. — 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 by President Obama today, 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.
“With our nation’s birthday around the corner, President Obama has provided the nation an early gift in the form of big energy savings, dollar savings, and pollution cuts,” said Andrew deLaski, Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). “However, even bigger savings could have been achieved.”
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), lighting uses nearly 40% of all electricity used in commercial buildings. The standards announced today 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). “We are heartened that President Obama himself chose to make the announcement and to focus on the importance of energy efficiency.”
According to DOE, the new standards announced today will save up to 1.2 trillion kilowatt-hours over thirty years, an amount about equal to the total consumption of all homes in the U.S. 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.
The maximum levels analyzed by DOE would have increased energy savings by another 230 billion kilowatt-hours over thirty years, or roughly enough to meet the power needs of 22 million more U.S. households for a year. The higher standards would have saved businesses and consumers as much as another $11 billion, according to DOE.
"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. The DOE rule is literally lighting the way toward a brighter energy future and along with future standards will serve as a cornerstone of our energy policy that we will build upon in years to come.”
DOE is slated to set a total of 25 new standards during the current presidential term.
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, a change that will save consumers energy, but not result in any outward change to reflector lamp appearance. 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.