Agreement calls for energy efficient fluorescent lights


he Department of Energy (DOE) has reached an agreement with lighting manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of fluorescent lighting. Adoption of new efficiency standards is expected to save between two and five quads of energy over a 30 year period, or enough energy to supply 12 to 26 million US homes for one year. The agreement is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 -- 72 million metric tons and nitrous oxide emissions by 108,000 -- 235,000 tons over 30 years.

"Lighting accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of all electricity consumed in the United States, and as a nation, we spend billions on it each year," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "This agreement is a victory for consumers, for the environment and for industry."

The new standards become effective on April 1, 2005, after which all new fluorescent lamps must use energy-efficient electronic ballasts. Ballasts increase the frequency of electricity to the higher levels needed to light the fluorescent tubes in light fixtures. Electronic ballasts are far more efficient than older, magnetic ballasts. Magnetic ballasts will remain available until 2010 for building owners to repair current systems. Residential ballasts will be exempt from these standards, but the agreement will support efforts by DOE to evaluate the residential lighting market.

The agreement was approved by the Natural Resources Defense Council, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the Alliance to Save Energy, the Oregon Department of Energy, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, lamp manufacturers, luminaire manufacturers and ballast component suppliers.