With the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 becoming law late last December, the United States has joined Canada, Europe and Australia in developing new lighting efficiency standards targeting today’s inefficient version of the incandescent light bulb. As popular 40-100W general-service bulbs begin to be eliminated in 2012, consumers will be challenged to find replacements that provide good lighting, energy savings and desired performance with dimmers and control systems, according to the Home Lighting Control Alliance (HLCA), an industry association formed to educate the public about advanced lighting controls in the home.
The law’s performance standards appear to favor compact fluorescent bulbs, often faulted for their cold, unflattering color, slow starting nature and mercury content. Most of today’s compact fluorescents cannot be dimmed, and even the special versions that are dimmable tend to exhibit flicker and produce a “cooler” color appearance while dimming.
Under the new law, however, consumers will retain choice over their lighting, with several options to retain incandescent lighting. Philips, for instance, currently offers an incandescent/halogen bulb, the Philips Halogená Energy Saver, that meets the standards. Available in 40W and 70W versions designed to replace 60W and 90+W incandescents respectively, these bulbs provide about 30% energy savings and a service life of 3,000 hours. Meanwhile, bulb manufacturers such as General Electric are working towards new high-efficiency incandescent bulbs that will comply with the new standards. And dimmable LED lights remain a possibility: The energy law, in fact, created a $10 million prize for an LED light bulb that can replace today’s 60W incandescents.
By carefully choosing light bulb replacements, consumers can continue enjoying the benefits of controls, from single wall-box dimmers up to whole house lighting control systems, without negative issues—not only as an amenity providing convenience, lifestyle enhancement and the warm lighting feel that consumers expect at home, but also as a means of achieving energy savings. They will also be able to continue using vacancy sensors to save energy in bathrooms, bedrooms, walk-in closets and other spaces. According to the California Energy Commission, dimming can save an average 10% of lighting energy consumption in the home, while vacancy sensors can save an average 20%.
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