Published on January 10th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


New US DOE Lighting Standards Could Save $15 Billion

January 10th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.

Fluorescent_lamps_artisticThe US Department of Energy closed out 2014 with a huge bang… but one that few people noticed. It released new energy efficiency standards for linear fluorescent lights. What does this mean exactly? Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) notes that the new standards “will lower the electric bills of virtually every office building, school, and hospital across the country by $15 billion through 2030.” $15 billion! Simply thanks to more efficient lighting, and a requirement by the Department of Energy to switch to these more efficient lights.

Horowitz notes that there are actually about 2.5 billion of these linear fluorescent lights installed across the US. Located in offices, schools, shops, hospitals, and more, they are typically on for many hours a day.

“Next time you are in your conference room, a grocery store or visiting your child’s school, look up and you will see 2 to 4 foot long fluorescent tubes illuminating the room,” Horowitz notes. “Fluorescent lighting accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the total electricity consumed by lighting in commercial and industrial buildings in the United States.”

The “General Service Fluorescent Lamps” standards will go into effect in three years, at the beginning of 2018. In short, they require that new lamps of this type be 4% more efficient than those on the market today, and that they be 23% more efficient than those sold before 2012. In other words, progress is moving along fast!

“The new lamps are a simple drop-in replacement and will give off the same amount of light and work just as well as the current, less efficient ones.”

Image Credit: Toshihiro Oimatsu (CC BY 2.0 license)

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Martin

    Savings would be even greater if they also make/require provisions for day lighting in the those and new places.

    • Larmion

      In mild climates, yes. In very hot or cold climates, the added gain or loss of heat would likely offset the electricity savings (even the best windows offer poorer insulation than properly insulated walls).

      The heat gain can be mitigated with shading systems, but the heat loss in a cold environment is currently impossible to avoid.

      • Vensonata

        Right you are Larmion. Daylighting has to be re thought. Bathrooms in cold climates, no windows. Closing insulated panels will do more than super windows or lighting in stopping window heat loss. Consider the exterior shutter on the old houses. If it is insulated it can make a grand comeback. Solar gain in the day…keep the heat at night.

        • Larmion

          That could work for homes, but this article is about industrial/commercial buildings. Those aren’t designed for maximum comfort but for maximum efficiency and minimal cost.

          Adding windows/skylights adds some cost, but it’s not insurmountable. If you then also have to add shutters, insulated ones at that, costs might become quite a bit higher. And they’re moving parts, so they will need regular maintenance.

          In short, I’m not sure if they’ll chime with the cost cutting culture of modern commercial building design. Perhaps strict government standards could be imposed, but is it really worth spending political capital over when there’s still so much low hanging fruit?

        • nakedChimp

          Bathrooms in cold climates, no windows.

          Have fun with mould or stink OR figure out a way to exchange air in old buildings without windows.. HVAC is a bitch to retrofit.
          Same goes for kitchens.

  • Vensonata

    Jeez, the led tube lights are getting up around 170 lumens per watt. They leave fluorescent in the dust, and many factories and groceries are already installing them. Hmmm, I am thinking that the DOE may know that it is already game, set, match, for led over tube fluorescent and that these are just news PR gestures.

  • patb2009

    i’ve seen LED drop ins for T-8, shouldn’t those be really good?

    • Jenny Sommer

      That would also save billions in maintenance cost. You do not have to change them that often…if ever.

    • Jenny Sommer

      I wonder what happened to OLED.

    • djr417

      I looked at replacing a few 4ft tubes, but the price for the LED was ridiculous. my last set lasted years, so its no where near financially worth it.

      • nakedChimp

        For me it’s not the T-8 ‘bulbs’ that go, but the electronic driver (not the old coil style) that dies all the time.. some components in there are underrated and fail long before the tube goes.. same with those small fluorescent bulbs that you can screw in.

        At the moment I’m working on putting those LED strips (8-10mm wide, 5m long) into aluminium profiles and hanging those into my workshop.. I hope they last longer.

  • Ronald Brakels

    And it will not only directly cut electricity consumption by lighting, it will also reduce energy consumed by air conditioners in summer as the more efficient a light is the less waste heat it produces. And while it may increase heating requirements in winter, I will point out that most buildings in the United States have more efficient means of heating than waste heat from lights.

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