Help Consumers Save Money by Saving Energy

Ed. Note: Cross posted from the Energy Blog.

At a time when families are struggling to pay their energy bills, leaders in the House are pushing to roll back common sense standards for residential lighting that save families money by saving energy.

It’s important to remember that these standards were passed just a few years ago with overwhelming bipartisan support from 86 Senators and 314 members of the House. They were championed and co-sponsored by the former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, and signed into law by President Bush.

I also want to take this opportunity to dispel a myth. The standards do NOT ban incandescent bulbs. You’ll still be able to buy energy-saving halogen incandescent bulbs that look exactly the same as the ones you’re used to, and more than pay for themselves over the life of the 100 watt replacement bulb.

The only difference is that your electric bills will be lower.

To save even more money, there are a wide range of new options like CFLs and LEDs. These options are 75 or 80 percent more efficient than traditional lighting, and they’ll last 10 or 25 times longer. In some cases, you might never have to replace them.

In a typical house, replacing 15 traditional bulbs with energy saving bulbs will save about $50 a year. That’s enough to run two 50 inch Energy Star plasma TVs -- five hours a day, all year long. The savings get even bigger if you use only the most efficient bulbs.

Overall, consumers will save $6 billion a year from these standards.

Here’s another example of how common-sense standards like these have been working for American families for decades: since the 1970's, we’ve made energy saving improvements to refrigerators that now save Americans $20 billion per year, or $150 per family.

These improvements happened because the government set energy saving standards that drove a wave of industry innovation. Today’s refrigerators are larger than those from the 1970's but cost half as much and consume only one quarter as much energy.

Thanks to the bipartisan effort in 2007, the same thing is already happening for lighting. There is a revolution in technology that is giving consumers more options.

On Friday, I announced a website that is designed to give consumers all the facts about the standards and the lighting options available to them -- energysavers.gov/lighting. The website explains what’s covered by the law and what isn’t. It also has useful information about energy-saving incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs -- light bulbs that meet the new standards and save consumers money.

The standards help us meet America’s energy needs while also saving people money. It’s a win-win approach that just makes sense.

Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy
Related Topics: Energy and Environment
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