While a few legislators may drag their feet when it comes to moving toward energy efficient lighting, overall, there’s no denying that Americans are embracing higher efficiency bulbs. A recent study showed that 81 percent of households in the United States already have at least one compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), and that the national embrace of such energy-saving tech seems to transcend even that old red state/blue state divide.
But there’s still much to be done in greening the nation’s lighting, especially when it comes to the commercial sector, as the new 2010 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization from the U.S. Department of Energy found that lighting accounted for approximately 700 terawatt-hours (TWh)—roughly 19 percent—of the nation’s total electricity use, with the commercial sector accounting for nearly half of that (349 TWh).
While the commercial sector is dominated by fluorescent lighting—which is more energy efficient than the incandescent lamps that still light up many of the nation’s homes—it keeps those lights on far longer, with most commercial fluorescent lamps seeing as much as 11 hours a day of service.
It’s been nine years since the DOE’s last such Lighting Market Characterization, so part of what the report analyzes are notable trends over that period of time. Such trends include increased demand for lighting—due in no small part to the residential building boom in the former half of the ‘aughts—accompanied by increased lighting efficiencies, due to public and private investment in more energy-efficient technologies, federal and state lighting regulations, and public awareness campaigns. All told, these three factors have proven effective in shifting the market in favor of more energy-efficient lighting technologies.