New Energy Efficiency Rules Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs: What to Know – The New York Times

We’ve known for a while that the day was coming, and now it’s here.  Effective yesterday retailers will no longer be permitted to sell most incandescent lamps (which includes halogen lamps) in the U.S.  There are some exceptions for things like bug lights, but not many.

Replacement lamps for sale now must produce at least 45 lumens per watt, which is easily achieved by LEDs but impossible with incandescents.

The Department of Energy estimates that consumers will save about $3 billion per year. ( Of course, this assumes they buy quality lamps that don’t fail within a year, which is a real problem with off brand, and even some name brand, lamps.)

Source: New Energy Efficiency Rules Ban Incandescent Light Bulbs: What to Know – The New York Times

26 Consumer Groups Urge D.O.E. to Take Action on Lamps

You may recall that in 2019 the Trump administration blocked a rule intended to phase out incandescent lamps and encourage a conversation to more energy efficient models, namely LEDs.  If you don’t remember the New York Times and NPR both had articles, among many others.

Last week, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center, along with 24 other groups across the country, urged the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Granholm to implement the efficiency standard for household lighting products mandated by Congress as soon as is practicable.  They claim that “Each month of delay costs American consumers nearly $300 million in lost utility savings and results in another 800,000 tons of climate changing CO2 emissions over the lifetimes of the incandescent bulbs sold in that month.”

You can read the entire press release at

DOE Issues Preliminary Determination on ASHRAE 90.1-2019

On April 21, 2021, DOE issued a preliminary determination that Standard 90.1-2019 will achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings subject to the code. DOE estimates national savings in commercial buildings of approximately:

  • 4.7 percent site energy savings
  • 4.3 percent source energy savings
  • 4.3 percent energy cost savings
  • 4.2 percent carbon emissions

If the DOE makes a final affirmative determination, and it likely will, states will have two years to certify that they have reviewed the provisions of their commercial building code regarding energy efficiency, and, as necessary, updated their codes to meet or exceed the updated edition of Standard 90.1.

Since 1992, 42 U.S.C. 6833 has required the DOE to evaluate new versions of ASHRAE 90.1 or its successor to determine if adopting the new version as a nationwide minimum standard would improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. If it does, “each State shall, not later than 2 years after the date of the publication of such determination, certify that it has reviewed and updated the provisions of its commercial building code regarding energy efficiency in accordance with the revised standard for which such determination was made. Such certification shall include a demonstration that the provisions of such State’s commercial building code regarding energy efficiency meet or exceed such revised standard.”

Focal Point Introduces TM-30 Based “Preferred Light”

Today Focal Point Lights of Chicago, IL introduced a series of fixtures that feature what they call Preferred Light.  Preferred Light is based on recent studies at PNNL and Penn State, plus their own study, and uses TM-30’s Rf, Rg, and Hue Bin 16 values to establish a balance of fidelity, saturation, and red rendering that is “visually appealing to humans.”

The overall idea is that people seem to prefer a light source that slightly over saturated most colors, especially red.  “Using a custom LED mix, Focal Point defines Preferred Light using TM-30-15 metrics as having a fidelity (Rf) of 89, a gamut (Rg) of 107, and over-saturating Hue Bin 16, deep red content, by 9% at a [Correlated] Color Temperature of 3500K.”  So, by using the statistical measures of TM-30 and applying them to the related topic of color preference Focal Point has identified an optimized set of LED products to meet their customers’ needs.

I’ll be the first to admit that it may be risky to base all of this on only three studies, but other studies have shown that the TM-30 results can be applied in this way, and are also showing us the relative importance of the various calculated values.  I’m excited to see the industry using the tools, and am looking forward to seeing the Preferred Light for myself.

DOE Predicts LED Use and Energy Savings

In September the DOE issued, Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications (PDF, 116 pages), the latest edition of a biannual report which models the adoption of LEDs in the U.S. general-lighting market, along with associated energy savings, based on the full potential DOE has determined to be technically feasible over time. The new report projects that energy savings from LED lighting will top 5 quadrillion Btus (quads) annually by 2035. Among the key findings:

  • By 2035, LED lamps and luminaires are anticipated to occupy the majority of lighting installations for each of the niches examined, comprising 86% of installed stock across all categories (compared to only 6% in 2015).
  • Annual savings from LED lighting will be 5.1 quads in 2035, nearly equivalent to the total annual energy consumed by 45 million U.S. homes today, and representing a 75% reduction in energy consumption versus a no-LED scenario.
  • Most of the 5.1 quads of projected energy savings by 2035 will be attributable to two commercial lighting applications (linear and low/high-bay), one residential application (A-type), and one that crosses ­both residential and commercial (direc­tional). Connected lighting and other control technologies will be essential in achieving these savings, accounting for almost 2.3 quads of the total.
  • From 2015 to 2035, a total cumulative energy savings of 62 quads – equivalent to nearly $630 billion in avoided energy costs – is possible if the DOE SSL Program goals for LED efficacy and connected lighting are achieved.

Don’t have time for the full report?  Download the report summary.

IALD Responds To DOE Energy Conservation Program

As I posted in March, the Emerging Technologies Program of the DOE’s Building Technologies Office asked for pubic comments on extending the minimum efficacy of incandescent lamps used in general illumination applications, specifically:

  1. Incandescent lamps that currently do not have a suitable replacement lamp meeting or exceeding 45 lumens per watt (lm/W).
  2. Gaps in technology that impede (or would likely impede) the design, development and future sale lamps of greater than or equal to 45 lm/W.

On May 13th the IALD published their response. The broad outline of their comments are that, first, the proposed rule to increase efficacy to a minimum of 45 lm/W is almost irrelevant because “the market is already addressing the issue of energy savings from lighting.” They go on to note that according to a recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, the use of electricity for lighting fell by 46% between 2003 and 2012.   Second, there is little to be gained by requiring an increased efficacy for lamps that do not currently have a minimum due to the relatively low numbers of lamps involved. Third, the available technologies (primarily LEDs) do not adapt well to certain lamp types and exhibit a range of problems with dimming.

I support the IALD’s response. Quite frankly, with the low LPDs that are written into the various energy conservation codes, we’re already designing under very tight power budgets. The DOE’s proposal will have no effect on decreasing power consumption because it lags so far behind Standard 90.1 and the IECC.

DOE Seeks Information On High Efficiency General Service Lamps

The Emerging Technologies (ET) Program of the United States Department of Energy Building Technologies Office is seeking information from the public on incandescent lamps in general illumination applications.

The ET Program supports applied research and development for technologies and systems that contribute to reductions in building energy consumption and helps to enable cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies to be developed and introduced into the marketplace. The following are key areas of interest:

1. Incandescent lamps that currently do not have a suitable replacement lamp meeting or exceeding 45 lumens per watt (lm/W).
2. Gaps in technology that impede (or would likely impede) the design, development and future sale of greater than or equal to 45 lm/W replacement lighting products

You can download the Request For Information here.

LPDs, As Low As We Should Go

ASHRAE has released a series of changes to Standard 90.1 in preparation for the 2016 update.  Among those changes is the further tightening of LPDs (click here) in all space and building types.  In my opinion, these changes should be rejected by the lighting community.

Rather than provide tight, but reasonable, limitations on the power consumption of lighting systems, the LPDs proposed in the revision of Table 9.5.1 are so low that they clearly favor LED technology almost to the exclusion of all others.  They also strongly imply that energy efficiency is the most important criteria of a lighting system, regardless of the application.  Neither of these positions is appropriate for this document or the organizations that develop and maintain it.

The proposed LPDs are nearly impossible to meet by lighting designers who wish to exercise their best judgement, or meet client requirements, by selecting project appropriate sources of light other than LED.  In some cases this imposes an avoidable financial burden on the owner.  For example, LED luminaires with a combination of high output and smooth dimming to zero (such as those required for theatres, cinemas, houses of worship, etc.) are substantially more expensive than halogen alternatives, and may require more expensive control systems as well.  Clients requiring excellent color rendering (such as high end retail, art schools, museums, and health care facilities) are also compelled to purchase premium priced LED fixtures.

The only way that these low LPDs (and the even lower LPDs we assume will be proposed in the future) make sense is if they are paired with hours of usage to arrive at a time weighted limitations.  Even then, the LPDs should be high enough to permit designers and owners a choice in the technology that they use for a given application.  The proposed LPDs come very close to eliminating that choice.

I’m not saying that all buildings should be illuminated with incandescent light, or that LPDs should be abolished. I am saying, however, that the ever tightening of LPDs cannot go on forever, and that we have reached a tipping point where these limitations are having unjustifiable impacts on designs and budgets.  In my opinion, LPDs should not be further reduced for the foreseeable future.