Obama Admin Unveils Energy-Efficiency Efforts, Investments

by | Jun 30, 2009

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chu_obamaPresident Barack Obama and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu have announced new plans to drive energy efficiency and save American consumers billions of dollars per year by setting energy conservation standards for certain types of fluorescent lamps and incandescent reflector lamps, and investing $346 million in energy-efficient building technologies (transcript of Obama’s remarks – video at bottom of story).

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says seven percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is for lighting. The ruling for energy-efficient lighting sets major changes to energy conservation standards for general service fluorescent lamps (GSFL), which are commonly found in residential and commercial buildings, and incandescent reflector lamps (IRL), which are commonly used in recessed and track lighting.  These fluorescent and incandescent lamps represent approximately 38 and 7 percent of total lighting energy use respectively. The ruling takes effect in 2012.

The final rule is expected to result in several major benefits including:

  • Avoiding the emission of up to 594 million tons of CO2 from 2012 to 2042
  • Saving consumers $1 to $4 billion annually from 2012 to 2042
  • Saving enough electricity from 2012 to 2042 to power every home in the U.S. for up to 10 months
  • Eliminating the need for up to 7.3 gigawatts of new generating capacity by 2042

In addition, the DOE says decreasing the electricity used in GSFLs by 15 percent will save consumers up to $8.66 per lamp over its lifetime; and decreasing electricity used by IRLs by 25 percent, will save $7.95 per lamp over its lifetime.

In February 2009, President Obama also tasked the DOE to speed up the pace of energy conservation standards for appliances.

In addition, President Obama and Secretary Chu announced a $346 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of energy-efficient technologies in all major types of commercial buildings as well as new and existing homes.

According to the DOE, residential and commercial buildings consume 40 percent of the energy and represent 40 percent of the carbon emissions in the United States. With the application of new and existing technologies, the DOE believes buildings can be made up to 80 percent more efficient or even become “net zero” energy buildings with the incorporation of on-site renewable generation.

The funding includes $100 million for Advanced Building Systems Research, $70 million for Residential Buildings Development and Deployment , $53.5 million for Commercial Buildings Initiative, $72.5 million for Buildings and Appliance Market Transformation ($72.5 million), and $50 million for Solid State Lighting Research and Development.

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