Lighting to the fore in Obama's energy-efficiency efforts

June 30, 2009
A further $50 million investment in solid-state lighting programs was announced, along with a new set of rules covering the efficiency of fluorescent and incandescent lamps.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $346 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to expand and accelerate the development, deployment and use of energy-efficient technologies in all major types of commercial buildings as well as new and existing homes. See the press release "Obama Administration Launches New Energy Efficiency Efforts".

Lighting is a major focus of this investment, with $50 million allocated specifically to Solid State Lighting (SSL) research and development, plus a new set of rules for the phase-out of certain inefficient lamp types.

The objective of the SSL activities is to advance state-of-the-art of SSL technology and to move those advancements more rapidly to market through a coordinated development of advanced manufacturing techniques. This project will both aid in the development and reduce the first cost of high performance lighting products.

The US government believes that continuing advances can accelerate progress towards creating a US-led market for high-efficiency light sources that save more energy, reduce costs, and have less environmental impact than other conventional light sources.

Focus on lighting

Announcing the latest energy-efficiency efforts, President Obama said that the first step is to set new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting. "Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy," said the President, "but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.

"Between 2012 and 2042, these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants.

"And by the way, we're going to start here at the White House. Secretary Chu has already started to take a look at our light bulbs, and we're going to see what we need to replace them with energy-efficient light bulbs."

End of life for lamps

Obama and Chu also unveiled a new ruling, which takes effect in 2012. This focuses on General Service Fluorescent Lamps (GSFLs), which are commonly found in residential and commercial buildings, and Incandescent Reflector Lamps (IRLs), which are commonly used in recessed and track lighting. These fluorescent and incandescent lamps represent approximately 38 and 7 percent of total lighting energy use, respectively.

The final rule, as issued by the Secretary of Energy on June 26, 2009, can be viewed and downloaded from the website of the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has details of the final ruling on Fluorescent and Incandescent Lamps.