This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 28, 2007

New Nationwide Effort Promotes a Switch to Energy Star Lights

Photo of compact fluorescent bulbs.

The twisted spiral shape of many of today's compact fluorescent lamps allows them to easily replace incandescent bulbs in most lighting fixtures.

A new group of organizations and individuals committed to energy efficiency launched a nationwide effort on February 22nd to raise awareness of the benefits of switching to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Called the 18Seconds movement, the group emphasizes that one small action—taking just 18 seconds to replace a conventional incandescent bulb with an Energy Star-labeled CFL—can dramatically cut energy use and benefit the environment. The movement is accompanied by a new Yahoo! Web site that uses data provided by major retailers and compiled by The Nielsen Company to track the number of CFLs purchased throughout the United States since January 1st. As of Tuesday, that number had exceeded 15 million, and that's considered to be a low estimate. See the 18Seconds Web site.

The 18Seconds network is a broad group of companies, government entities, non-governmental organizations, religious groups, academic institutions, and individuals working together to educate U.S. residents about the benefits of CFLs, which require one-third the energy of traditional bulbs to provide the same amount of light. If every U.S. household swapped just one bulb for a CFL, it would collectively save them more than $8 billion in energy costs, prevent burning 30 billion pounds of coal, and keep two million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. In addition, the energy saved would be enough to meet the electricity needs of 1.5 million homes, more than all the homes in Delaware and Vermont combined. See the Yahoo! press release.

Of course, now that people are learning that CFLs use far less energy than incandescent light bulbs, the General Electric Company (GE) is preparing to throw a wrench in the works. According to GE, advances in materials will soon allow the company to produce an incandescent bulb that uses half as much energy as today's incandescent bulbs, and future advances should yield a bulb that rivals CFLs in terms of energy efficiency. The company expects to start selling its "High Efficiency Incandescent" lamp in 2010. See the GE press release.