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The New Year Brings Better Quality Lighting Choices to California


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Giving consumers the choice of better quality light bulbs, three new energy efficiency standards go into effect January 1, 2018. The standards cover general service light bulbs; general purpose light-emitting diodes - commonly called LEDs - used to replace typical existing home lighting; and small-diameter directional lamps, often used in commercial sites for track lighting.

With the LED and small-diameter directional lamp standards, consumers will save more than $4 billion in aggregate over the first 13 years and conserve enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 400,000 average homes.

The minimum efficiency standard for general service light bulbs - the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) - that will affect incandescent and halogen light bulbs is a federal standard, which goes into effect in 2020. California opted to permit the standard to take effect two years ahead of the nation, ensuring consumers start saving energy and money earlier.

The federal standard requires general service light bulbs to be 45 lumens per watt. Lumens measure the amount of light a bulb produces and watts measure the amount of power it consumes. Light bulbs meeting the standard are readily available.

"The minimum standards are difficult to meet with incandescent or halogen technology," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the California Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "Ten years ago manufacturers chose to focus on much more efficient products - LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs - to meet consumer needs. The new technology improves the mix of products available to people so that lighting is vastly improved."

In California there are more than 600 million sockets for general service and reflector light bulbs and about half of those are still using old incandescent light bulbs. Approximately 90 percent of electricity used by traditional light bulbs is wasted as heat instead of visible light. The technology of LEDs and compact fluorescents make the light bulb more efficient and last much longer.

To ensure general purpose LEDs continue the trend toward more efficient products without trading off quality features in light bulbs that consumers expect, the Energy Commission adopted standards in 2016. The standards will drive both efficiency and quality improvements, such as minimizing color distortion so that the light bulb can make an object appear as it would under natural light and setting a minimum lifetime requirement of about 10 years.

In California, there are about 16 million small-diameter directional lamps. With the new standards, consumers will save an estimated $250 per light bulb when replacing a small-diameter directional lamp with one that meets the new standard.

For more information please see the news release from the 2016 LED and small-diameter directional lamp adoption and frequently asked questions on the lighting standards.

About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.

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