California passes a new law that takes effect January 1, 2011 requiring improved energy efficiency in all light bulbs in the State.

California consumers also will save money buying LED lighting. has the best in energy efficient LED lights and now there is much more reason than ever before to change your lighting to LEDs.

A new federal law will start saving consumers money by improving the energy efficiency standard for incandescent light bulbs sold in California on or after January 1, 2011.

The standard – Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) – will save California consumers money with new bulbs that offer the same amount of light while using less power. Passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, EISA created new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. The law is designed to reduce energy use and associated pollution and make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy. While the country will adopt this standard on January 1, 2012, California was given authority to implement the national standards one year earlier to avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs in 2011 which would cost consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills*.

Reducing energy use in California also results in improved environmental quality by avoiding the construction of new power plants and air pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The standard in California states that a 100-watt bulb manufactured on or after January 1, 2011 must use 28 percent less energy (i.e. a 100-watt bulb may not use more than 72 watts). The new 72-watt replacement bulb will provide the same amount of light (i.e. lumens), use less power, and cost less to operate.

New lighting technology has become more efficient than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Approximately 90% of the electricity used by traditional incandescent bulbs is wasted as heat instead of visible light. Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with more efficient halogen, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will save consumers money while still offering same amount of light.

The new standard is technology neutral and allows consumers to choose among a variety of high-performance products for their replacement lighting. Additionally, it does not affect the existing supply of incandescent light bulbs stocked in retail stores or incandescent light bulbs already in use.

This standard builds on the California Energy Commission’s long and successful reputation of saving consumers money though energy efficiency standards. Since 1978, California’s appliance and building efficiency standards have saved more than $56 billion in electricity and natural gas costs.

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From the NY Times: MATTHEW L. WALD

Does a “gasoline-powered alarm clock” qualify for the EnergyStar label, the government stamp of approval for an energy-saving product?

Like more than a dozen other bogus products submitted for approval since last June by Congressional auditors posing as companies, it easily secured the label, according to a Congressional report to be issued Friday. So did an “air purifier” that was essentially an electric space heater with a feather duster pasted on top, the Government Accountability Office said.

In a nine-month study, four fictitious companies invented by the accountability office also sought EnergyStar status for some conventional devices like dehumidifiers and heat pump models that existed only on paper. The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet those applications were mostly approved without a challenge or even questions, the report said.

Auditors concluded that the EnergyStar program was highly vulnerable to fraud.

Maria Vargas, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency, which runs the program with the Energy Department, said the approvals did not pose a problem for consumers because the products never existed. There was “no fraud,” Ms. Vargas emphasized. She said she doubted that many of the 40,000 genuine products with EnergyStar status had been mislabeled.But in anticipation of the report’s release, the Energy Department has issued two statements in recent days pledging to strengthen the program.

Yet auditors found problems beyond the approval of nonexistent products. They determined that once a company registered as an EnergyStar partner, it could download the logo from the government’s Web site and paste it on products for which it had not even requested approval.

The report is only the latest in a series involving the 18-year-old EnergyStar program, which was set up to guide the public on energy-efficient choices that could both save people money and help reduce the nation’s runaway energy consumption.

Watchdogs within the Environment Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have reported in the past that Energy Star has taken some claims of energy efficiency on faith. Yet the new study suggests that it often does so on remote control.

Congressional auditors said they were told by EnergyStar officials that some of the approvals, including the one for the gasoline alarm clock, had been issued by an automated system and that the details had probably never been reviewed by a human being.

Ms. Vargas added that the automated system that green-lighted the clock was only a preliminary “screen” to evaluate energy figures submitted by manufacturers and to cut out products that did not qualify. Every product that is certified is reviewed by a human being, she said.

But Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who requested the accountability office study, said in an interview, “I don’t think I’d admit that.”

If a government employee or contractor examined the comical picture submitted of the space heater with a feather duster, or read the description of the gas-powered clock — with dimensions suggesting it was the size of an electric generator — “and red flags didn’t get raised, that’s a really troubling commentary,” Ms. Collins said. She said the ease with which the auditors had fooled the program suggested that consumers and agencies that rely on the logo were paying extra for products that might not actually save energy. “This program is extraordinarily easy to defraud,” she said. Ms. Collins also noted that the economic stimulus bill included hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for people who buy EnergyStar products and that many government agencies were required to choose EnergyStar products if they were available. In effect, people “are ripped off twice,” as consumers and as taxpayers, she said.

Previous reports have suggested that the EnergyStar label is not always a complete or useful guide to the best consumer choices. Last October, for example, the inspector general of the E.P.A. said that 100 percent of the computer monitors that carried the EnergyStar logo had indeed met requirements. But so did 80 percent of the monitors that did not have the logo; the manufacturers had apparently not sought approval. For computer printers, 95 percent of the ones with the logo qualified, but so did 60 percent of the ones that did not have the logo.

And some consumer products lacking EnergyStar approval consumed less energy than those that had it, the audit found.

And the inspector general of the Energy Department reported the same month that EnergyStar claims were not “accurate or verifiable” for many products. The program requires manufacturers of windows and fluorescent lights to get their products certified by independent laboratories. But companies that make refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters and room air-conditioners, in which efficiency is far more critical because they gobble more energy, need only check a box on a form to be certified. The Energy Department has promised to set up a system of independent verification for all products. Last week, it said it would begin testing refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air-conditioners. In October 2008, Consumer Reports magazine reported it had tested refrigerators built by LG of South Korea and found that they were not nearly as efficient as the maker claimed. LG eventually agreed to modify the machines already sold to reduce electricity consumption and to reimburse customers. Last week, the Energy Department said it had found a Samsung refrigerator that did not comply. The Energy Department does spot check some items with the EnergyStar logo, but mostly the ones that do not use much power in the first place. The department recently announced that several models of compact fluorescent lamps would have to remove the EnergyStar logo because they were not durable enough. It has conducted spot checks on regulated appliances that do not carry the logo and determined that some cannot be legally sold because they do not meet minimum efficiency standards. The audit to be released Friday did not set out to test any products but focused solely on testing the certification process by submitting bogus products. Gene Rodrigues, the director of customer energy efficiency at Southern California Edison, suggested that the EnergyStar label suffered from its appeal to manufacturers. “It may be that their ability to properly manage the brand suffered at the fringes,” he said of the program’s overseers. He argues that a strong federal certification program is vital. “What we in the program industry are looking for is for this to be a wake-up call to whip them into shape,” he said. In another sign that Energy Star is not dotting its i’s, program officials told the auditors that they sought to assure honesty by warning corporate applicants on some of its paperwork that intentionally submitting false information is a crime, under Title 18 of the United States Code. But it is a crime under Title 19, not 18, and the warning does not appear on all of the relevant forms, the report said.

The U.S. government is developing plans to test all Energy Star products to ensure they meet efficiency standards, following mounting criticism that the Energy Star label, carried by about 60 different kinds of products, has lost some of its reliability as more items carry it and some don’t perform as well as claimed.  The move comes as consumers are seeking federal rebates for Energy Star products as part of a $300 million “cash for appliances” program that states are rolling out this year.

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Philips Lumileds has launched a free online tool that makes it easier for manufacturers of LED-based luminaires to show compliance with ENERGY STAR® standards. The new tool addresses the requirements of the “Chromaticity and Spatial Uniformity” test in the ENERGY STAR® specification for LED lighting that requires the beam of light to appear the same color to the human eye, regardless of which area of the beam the viewer looks at or where they are at in relation to the light source.

To show compliance with these requirements, the lighting manufacturer must have their product tested by an independent laboratory. The lab tests will produce a data set showing the color of the light output under a wide variety of conditions. In many cases, the lighting manufacturer must undergo a difficult and time-consuming process to analyze the data set and perform complex calculations to demonstrate or determine compliance.

With the new tool, lighting manufacturers simply enter the data set from their test lab, as specified by IESNA LM79. The tool then automatically performs all necessary calculations and generates a report in a recognized format. This report shows whether the light complies with the Chromaticity and Spatial Uniformity specification, and if not, indicates where and how it fails.

Rudi Hechfellner, Philips Lumileds’ Applications Manager noted that their tool eliminates the learning curve and confusion by making a difficult process simple. Manufacturers can go into the compliance-testing process knowing that determining compliance will be quick and simple.

Philips Lumileds a leading provider of power LEDs for everyday lighting applications known for its LED products and solid-state lighting.

Best Buy Takes Electronics Recycling NationwideBest Buy is expanding a pilot electronics recycling program to the entire United States. Beginning February 15th, 2009, you will be able to bring up to two electronic units per day per household to your nearest Best Buy for recycling. They will accept televisions and monitors up to 32″ in size, desktop PC’s, notebooks and laptops, computer accessories such as keyboards and mice, VCR’s, DVD players, cell phones, and remote controls. Best Buy will charge a $10 recycling fee for most items with screens such as TV’s but will immediately issue you a Best Buy gift card for the same amount. All items they accept will be disposed of through third-party recycling partners.

Items Best Buy will NOT accept under this program include appliances, air conditioners, microwave ovens, items with screens larger than 32″, and items with Freon. However, Best Buy will pick up and haul away these items if they are also delivering you a new product. They will also pick up items for recycling without a delivery but with a $100 fee for up to two items, and $20 per additional item.

Best Buy will also continue its recycling kiosks at the front of every store where you can recycle cell phones, PDA’s, CD’s, DVD’s, ink cartridges, and rechargeable batteries.

The company’s newly announced program for electronics will be an enormous benefit to every community with a Best Buy in the country, which have all had to rely on ad hoc, patchwork processes for keeping these items out of landfills. Here in Arlington, Virginia the recycling of these materials is a major pain in the rear. They are considered “hazmats,” and there is only one designated center for hazmats in the County–that being at a local water treatment plant. Their open “office hours” are 9-3 on Saturdays; otherwise an appointment must be made to drop the materials off another time. They also charge more than Best Buy for disposing of items with screens. While it’s great to have that service, it can’t compare to being able to go to the nearby Best Buy at any time they’re open and just drop these items off. Hopefully communities everywhere will see a major uptick in the recycling of these materials as a result of the convenience Best Buy will soon be offering.

Solid-State Lighting Portfolio Strategy 

DOE has made a long-term commitment to advance the development and market introduction of energy-efficient white-light sources for general illumination. Solid-state lighting (SSL) differs fundamentally from today's lighting technologies, and its unique attributes drive the need for a coordinated approach that guides technology advances from laboratory to marketplace. DOE has developed a comprehensive national strategy that encompasses Basic Energy Science, Core Technology Research, Product Development, Commercialization Support, Standards Development, and an SSL Partnership.

SSL Portfolio Strategy 
Basic Energy Science

The Basic Energy Sciences Program within DOE's Office of Science conducts basic research to advance our fundamental understanding of materials behavior, with the goal of impacting future directions in applied research and technology development. Project results often have multiple applications, including SSL.

Core Technology Research
Through a series of ongoing, interactive workshops, DOE and its SSL partners have refined an extensive R&D agenda to ensure that DOE funds the appropriate research topics that will improve efficiency and speed SSL technologies to market. Core Technology Research – conducted primarily by academia, national laboratories, and research institutions – involves applied research efforts to seek more comprehensive knowledge about a subject. These projects fill technology gaps, provide enabling knowledge or data, and represent a significant advance in our knowledge base. For a more detailed definition of Core Technology Research, see Definition of DOE SSL R&D Pathways.

Product Development
Conducted primarily by industry, Product Development is the systematic use of knowledge gained from basic or applied research to develop or improve commercially viable materials, devices, or systems. Laboratory testing is conducted on prototypes, and feedback is used to improve prototype design. In addition to technical activities, market and fiscal studies are performed to ensure a successful transition to the marketplace. For a more detailed definition of Product Development, see Definition of DOE SSL R&D Pathways.

Commercialization Support
To ensure that DOE investments in Core Technology Research and Product Development lead to SSL technology commercialization, DOE has developed a national strategy to guide market introduction of SSL for general illumination. This strategy draws on DOE's involvement in virtually every aspect of SSL R&D and the Department's ongoing relationships with the SSL industry, research community, standards setting groups, and energy efficiency organizations. Together with these partners, DOE is implementing a full range of activities, including:

  • ENERGY STAR® designation for SSL technologies and products
  • Design competitions for lighting fixtures and systems using SSL
  • Technical information resources on SSL technology issues, test procedures, and standards
  • Testing of commercially available SSL products for general illumination
  • Coordination with utility, regional, and national market transformation programs
  • Technology demonstrations to showcase high-performance products in commercial and residential applications and provide real-world experience and data on performance and cost effectiveness
  • Procurement programs that encourage large-volume purchases of high-performance products

Learn more about DOE's commercialization support activities.

Standards Development
The development of national standards and rating systems for new products enables consumers to compare products made by different manufacturers, since all companies must test their products and apply the rating in the same way. DOE works closely with industry and standards setting organizations, providing leadership and support to accelerate the standards development process and technical assistance in the development of new standards. Learn more.

SSL Partnership
Supporting DOE SSL portfolio activities is the SSL Partnership. DOE's Memorandum of Agreement with the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, signed in February 2005, details a strategy to enhance the manufacturing and commercialization focus of the DOE SSL portfolio by utilizing the expertise of an organization of SSL manufacturers.

The Partnership provides significant input to shape DOE research priorities and, at DOE's discretion, provides technical expertise for proposal and project reviews. In addition, the Partnership accelerates the implementation of SSL technologies by:

  • Communicating SSL program accomplishments
  • Encouraging the development of metrics, codes, and standards
  • Promoting demonstrations of SSL technologies for general lighting applications
  • Supporting DOE voluntary market-oriented programs 

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