Bolstered by promises from President Barack Obama and Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to promote energy efficiency, thousands of Americans are rallying behind energy efficient lighting. Advocates are recommending a new lighting standard that can potentially save consumers and businesses more than $67 billion, and remain hopeful that the DOE and President Obama will adopt the strongest energy efficiency standards for new light bulbs.
Today, Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council will deliver nearly 30,000 petitions and emails from online advocates to the DOE calling for the department to adopt the strongest standards for fluorescent light tubes and incandescent reflector lamps. Former President George W. Bush proposed a standard for these products on January 15, just days before President Obama took office. Unfortunately, the Bush proposal left huge energy and dollar savings, as well as huge pollution reductions, on the table. The fluorescent light bulbs covered by the standard, the long, tube-shaped lights commonly found in offices and homes all over the country, have the potential for being some of the biggest energy savers. According to the DOE, about 500 million of these fluorescent lamps are sold annually.
In addition to being weak, the Bush proposal also excluded some of the most common types of reflector lamps, the coated bulbs popular in recessed ceiling fixtures and track lighting. Today’s petitions and emails call upon President Obama to reject the Bush approach and instead start immediately to fulfill his promise to make America “the most energy efficient country in the world.”
“These tough economic times mean we all need to seize opportunities to save money wherever we can,” said Tim Ballo, Earthjustice attorney. “By taking these necessary first steps, the new administration can signal a commitment to prioritize national energy savings as the top consideration for new efficiency standards and save Americans money in the process.”
Along with potential savings over the next three decades of over $67 billion, a revised standard could save enough energy to power every household in America for an entire year, cutting about 800 million tons of global warming pollution. Also, the lighting standard is the largest potential energy saver among 25 new appliance efficiency standards that the Obama administration must complete during the next four years under court orders and congressional deadlines.
“We all rely on the quick and easy flick of a switch to get light, so you can imagine the potential savings from making our bulbs more efficient,” said Lane Burt, Energy Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We could generate billions of dollars in energy savings and protect public health by reducing mercury emissions. The bottom line is that improving our light bulbs is a fast and safe way to save money and reduce our nation’s global warming pollution.”
DOE Secretary Chu underscored the importance of energy efficiency initiatives during a March 4 speech before a panel of energy experts in Washington DC.
“In solving the energy problem the United States faces, I believe wholeheartedly that energy efficiency is the lowest hanging fruit,” Chu said. “And for the next several decades it will be energy efficiency that will make the most inroads in reducing our carbon footprint and transitioning to sustainable energy.”
Secretary Chu also recognized the Bush administration’s poor record of completing energy efficiency standards.
“We are going to be taking a much more aggressive role in appliance standards…the Department of Energy has not had a completely distinguished record in getting out appliance standards,” he said. “We’re going to be working on appliance standards… Everywhere we can, I reiterate that this is really the lowest hanging fruit.”
“It’s great that Secretary Chu is shining a light on the need for stronger energy efficiency standards,” said Marianne DiMascio, of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “For fluorescent lights, stronger standards are long overdue.” DiMascio noted that DOE failed to meet the legally required deadline to complete this standard in 2002.