"Energy efficiency isn't just low hanging fruit, it's fruit lying on
the ground." U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, June 26, 2009
In December 2007, then-President Bush signed the Energy Independence
and Security Act into law. Among other things, this law opened the door
for energy-efficient light bulbs to gain market share in the U.S.
However, several commonly used lamp types were exempted under the Act.
On June 26 of this year, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new
set of efficiency standards for General Service Fluorescent Lamps
(GSFLs) and Incandescent Reflector Lamps (IRLs). The rules will go into
effect in the second half of 2012.
Since these two lamp categories represent 45% of total lighting
electricity consumption in the U.S., new energy-efficient light bulb
rules are significant. Vast amounts of electricity, and the harmful
emissions attributable to its production, will be saved over the
decades ahead. This represents good news for the American wallet and
the environment we all share. Green light bulbs are here to stay.
Green Light Bulbs for Downlight Fixtures
The rest of this article will focus on the opportunities to save
energy with state-of-the-art incandescent reflector bulbs, even before
the new efficiency standards go into effect.
The current minimum efficacy (in lumens per watt) standard for
PAR20 and PAR30, 120 volt, 75 watt IRLs (established in 1975) is 12.5.
The new rules that take effect in 2012 are applicable to the same lamps
and increase the minimum efficacy to 16.0 and 18.9 lumens per watt,
respectively. This increase in the standard represents a 28% and 51%
increase in efficiency, respectively.
Eco-friendly light bulbs, which meet the newly announced 2012
standards, are already on the market (though they're not easy to find).
The savvy reader will suspect that a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) can
easily surpass the new efficacy rules for IRLs. And they'd be
correct...CFLs typically produce 40 or more lumens per watt, making
them much more energy efficient than the more popular halogen variety.
But there's a catch: the light cast by CFLs and some other green light
bulbs, while satisfactory in the home or office, is inferior to halogen
light in terms of its ability to crisply render colors and fine
A Small Business Case Study: The Merits of Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
A small, green, retail business owner wants to reduce
electricity costs and carbon emissions without sacrificing the light
quality needed to properly showcase merchandise. In terms of switching
to the right energy-efficient light bulbs, what can the owner do now?
Single location, green home-goods retailer in central New Hampshire occupying 300 square feet of space
36 recessed cans, mounted on 4 tracks, are used to light the store
Fixtures accommodate 3.75" wide reflector-type bulbs (PAR30, R30 etc.)
28 cans contain green light bulbs (R30 CFLs) using 15 watts each for general lighting
8 cans, mounted in a track which lights an alcove occupied by
a paint-chip display for eco-friendly paints, contain PAR30 long neck
halogen lamps of 75 watts each (note that these 8 lamps consume 59% of
lighting electricity in the store).
Challenge: The owner wants to improve the energy efficiency of
the alcove lamps without sacrificing the crisp, flattering light of the
halogen lamps currently in use.
Recommendation: Replace 75 watt PAR30 long neck bulbs with 48
watt GE Long Life HIR(TM) PLUS PAR30 long neck lamps. These
energy-efficient light bulbs yield output of 850 lumens, 90 lumens less
than the existing lamp. The owner found this reduction to be acceptable
after testing the new lamps for several days.
The new bulb produces 17.7 lumens per watt, making it 42% more
energy-efficient than the old lamp. Furthermore, it is 5% more
energy-efficient than Secretary Chu's just-announced standards for a 48
watt, 120 volt, PAR30 (16.8 lumens per watt).
Finally, these lamps have a 40% longer life expectancy than the
old, a redeeming merit due to the typical higher price tags of
energy-efficient light bulbs. This advantage will reduce replacement
costs and boost overall savings.
Savings Forecast Using Green Light Bulbs
New Hampshire is a high cost electricity state with a commercial
rate of 15.6 cents per kilowatt hour as of March 2009 (citation: US
Energy Information Administration). The store owner estimates 2,000
hours of annual use for these new energy-efficient light bulbs. At a
retail price of $15.38 per lamp, she expects to virtually break even
after one year. And over two years, during which time she would have
had to replace the original 75 watt bulbs, she expects to save $155, or
30%, using green light bulbs to light her alcove with the eight fixture
The newly announced efficiency standards for GSFLs and IRLs are
welcome news for self inflating mat for tent those concerned with reducing harmful gas emissions
stemming from electricity generation. And according to the Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, these green light bulbs will
save U.S. consumers $1 to $4 billion per year starting in 2012.
Manufacturers of energy-efficient light bulbs and their
forward-looking distributors are ahead of the curve however. It is
therefore possible for home and business owners with downlight fixtures
to immediately start phasing in green light bulbs, without sacrificing
the great light quality they enjoy from IRLs.