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Obama Changes Lighting Efficiency Standards

7/29/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: lighting, energy-efficient lighting, compact fluorescent light bulbs, CFLs, incandescent light bulbs

Last year in a Newsweek article, President Obama claimed, “I can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed the light bulbs in my house.” Looks like he’s changed his mind.

Obama and the Department of Energy are working on new standards for energy efficiency, beginning with fluorescent and incandescent lights. The measures, which take effect in 2012, will focus on general service fluorescent lamps (GSFL) and incandescent reflector lamps (IRL). GSFLs, commonly found in residential and commercial buildings, use 38 percent of the nation's total lighting energy usage. IRLs, found in recessed or track lighting, use 7 percent of our nation's total lighting energy.

“Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, 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,” Obama said in announcing the initiatives. With projected savings of $1 to $4 billion dollars a year, this simple action is hard to argue. 

The new lighting standards are expected to cut 594 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2012 and 2042 and eliminate the need for up to 14 new coal power plants. But that’s not all: The government is investing $346 million from the stimulus bill in energy-efficient commercial and residential buildings. 

Lighting Chart 


Obama cited California’s successful history with tougher energy-efficiency policies enacted in the 1970s, as proof that such measures work. Californians consume 40 percent less energy per person than the national average. 


There’s a lot you can do before the lighting policy goes into effect. Energy Star lighting, compact florescent (CFL) bulbs and others can all cut down on costs and save on energy. But do your research. Some bulbs are more environmentally friendly than others. 

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