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The basic light bulb may not seem like the hottest new product around, but it does hold the key to shoring up the bottom line for businesses and consumers alike.
Thanks to tougher new energy efficiency standards just announced by the Department of Energy (DOE), businesses and consumers will save up to $4 billion as the new standards take effect between 2012 and 2042.
These savings will be enjoyed by everyone as the more efficient fluorescent and incandescent lamp systems hit the stores. And looking to the next generation of lighting sytems, DOE’s funding R&D on “solid-state lighting,” which is supposed to create a fundamentally new lighting system in the future.
Why the big push for lighting standards? Because in announcing the program, President Obama noted that lighting consumes 7% of all the energy used in the U.S. Cut back on power needed for lighting and you get related reductions of greenhouse gas emissions as well as other air pollutants released from coal-fired power plants.
But there are more opportunities ahead for business in the package of energy efficiency investments announced by Obama and DOE Secretary Steven Chu. The feds will release $346 million in stimulus funds to boost energy efficiency in existing and new commercial buildings. All the details will be announced this month when the DOE regulations are published in the Federal Register.
This stimulus funding to promote green buildings will create opportunities for building owners and those that supply appliances, technology, equipment and energy management systems.
Reason: There’s an even larger savings to be gained by improving energy efficiency in buildings because nearly 40% of U.S. energy consumption goes to heating, lighting and cooling buildings. To generate these savings, DOE will use its stimulus funding to invest:
- $100 million on integrated systems to control and manage energy use so buildings can become zero-net energy buildings
- $70 million to train workers how to retrofit existing homes with energy saving devices
- $72.5 million to spur development of energy-efficient products that qualify for Energy Star ratings and to educate industry on how to achieve a 30% increase in a building’s energy efficiency
- $53.5 million to partner with building owners to demonstrate what it takes to achieve “exemplary energy performance,” and
- $50 million on R&D to develop solid-state lighting.
It’s of note that while Obama did reference the environmental benefits of improving energy efficiencies, he’s also starting to highlight the main point of his energy policy: reducing dependence on imported oil.
The DOE announcement is here.
The White House transcript of Obama and Chu is here.