Bright Idea for 2013? ENERGY STAR Certified Lighting!

By: Monique O’Grady, the Alliance to Save Energy

When we popped open the corks at the stroke of midnight at our house to welcome 2013, we did it under ENERGY STAR certified lighting: CFLs in the recessed fixtures, LEDs in the pendants, and LED holiday lights on the mantle.

Watching the iconic ball drop over Times Square on TV is a New Year’s Eve tradition at the O’Grady’s that was made even more special a year ago when I had an opportunity to look at the energy-saving wonder up close. I accompanied the President of the Alliance to Save Energy, Kateri Callahan, and Philips Lighting’s Ed Crawford, as they were interviewed about the 32,000 LEDs in the world-famous ball and the benefits of switching to energy-saving lighting.  The cutting-edge technology shone brightly under pristine crystal, while saving about 80% of the energy used by the original globe’s incandescents. The result? The 12-foot globe that now ushers in the New Year with a colorful light show uses only the energy of two wall ovens.

But you don’t have to be in Times Square during the extravaganza that rings in the New Year to know that saving energy can also work on a smaller scale.

Buying Bulbs, Saving for Our Future
This year’s holiday electric bill will probably be a belated gift.  This Department of Energy stat shows why: the estimated electricity cost to light a 6-foot tree with C-9 incandescent light strands  will add $10.00 to an energy bill during a 40-day holiday season. But, by using C-9 LED strands, the cost is just 27 cents.  I used three LED strands on my tree, but I also changed out an additional seven strands for other decorating needs. That should make a noticeable difference.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if every decorative light string purchased in the United States this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would:

  • Prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from about 80,000 cars.
  • Save more than 600 million kWh of electricity.
  • Save about $65 million in annual energy costs.

A recent estimate by the Department of Energy shows that by 2030, the energy savings from increased use of LED lights will reach $30 billion a year. In 2013 we expect to see more LED options on the market and prices continuing to drop.  And 2013 also promises some of the first 100-watt LED equivalents – another gift that keeps on giving!  Look for the ENERGY STAR on these bulbs to ensure they have passed all the rigorous tests required by the EPA’s strict ENERGY STAR requirements.

Initially these 100-watt LED equivalents will be pricy — about $50 a bulb — but one manufacturer estimates each bulb will save $220 in energy costs over its 25,000-hour lifespan (or more than 20 years).  If you want to learn more about energy-saving light bulbs go to You can also check the Alliance to Save Energy YouTube series for ways to be energy efficient all year long. Here is your first tip–start by looking for the ENERGY STAR label!

Monique O’Grady is the Vice President of Communications for the Alliance to Save Energy and helps chair the mass media subcommittee of the LUMEN Coalition, an ad-hoc group of organizations and professionals united to educate consumers about energy-efficient lighting choices. Monique also hosts an Alliance to Save Energy video series on energy efficiency tips, including six videos on energy-efficient lighting.

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