By: Taylor Jantz-Sell
When I started working for ENERGY STAR five years ago, I had no idea I’d turn into the lighting nerd I am today. You know you’ve turned when you start evaluating the lighting wherever you go. Back then, CFLs were just getting past all the early hurdles, and LEDs seemed far off. Fast forward a few years, and it is amazing how things have improved. While CFLs have always been a no-brainer for efficiency, they weren’t always meeting people’s expectations. Now, with improved starting, appearance, and a selection of dimming models, there is an ENERGY STAR certified CFL to meet almost every need. And what was once the expensive and far-off possibility of LED lighting is now becoming a viable option for general purpose lighting needs. LED light bulb efficiency is on track to surpass CFLs, and with the help of ENERGY STAR, performance and quality have come a long way. Even as improvements are made, cost is dropping.
Every spring, I attend LightFair International– the premier lighting convention in the U.S. — where the latest and greatest in lighting is announced and displayed (and probably one of the few shows where people wear sunglasses indoors). I just returned from this year’s conference, and it is clear that LED lighting is the future.
I remember the first year that LED lighting really showed up at LightFair back in 2010. That year, everyone had to have some kind of LED product on display; I can only imagine the mad rush of manufacturing prototypes in preparation for the show. If you didn’t have “LED” in your booth at Light Fair you were surely to be left behind. Two years later it’s hard to find products at the show that aren’t LED. The exciting thing is that it’s not just a cool new lighting technology; it’s a cool new technology that can really take a bite out of our energy use.
Lighting accounts for 12-30 percent of energy use in the U.S. To put this into perspective, in a home that 12 percent is more energy than your refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer uses combined! In a commercial building, that 30 percent is on par with what the air conditioning system uses.
What is really exciting is that ENERGY STAR has had a major impact on this market. Meeting ENERGY STAR performance and quality requirements is top of mind for anyone developing a new lighting product. What came across throughout the show was loud and clear: ENERGY STAR has set the bar for high quality, LED light bulbs and fixtures. It’s nice to see that ENERGY STAR is leading us all into a brighter future with advanced lighting that is “light” on environmental impact.
Taylor Jantz-Sell has supported ENERGY STAR lighting in various roles over the years, from working on the Change a Light Campaign, to product qualification, marketing, utility program support and consumer education. If you want to geek out on lighting she’s always up for it.