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Co-op Lighting Lessons

Article was added on Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Floyd L. Keels - ThumbnailAs federal efficiency standards phase out traditional incandescent lightbulbs, electric co-ops are testing which lighting technologies work best for consumers. Co-ops like Santee Electric has long championed compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), the first cost-effective, energy-saving alternative to traditional bulbs.

We give away CFLs at our annual meetings and other member events.  We see them as a quick, low-cost way our members can start saving on their electric bills.

By 2014, household lightbulbs using between 40-W to 100-W will need to consume at least 28 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. Because incandescents use 90 percent of their energy producing heat, upgrading saves Americans an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion in lighting costs every year.

More lighting changes will roll out in coming years. The federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that lightbulbs become 70 percent more efficient than classic bulbs by 2020 (LEDs already exceed this goal.)

Lighting accounts for roughly 13 percent of an average household's electric bill. Hardware store shelves are filled with lightbulb options. What works best for co-op members?

A helpful addition to lighting products is the Lighting Facts Label. Much like nutrition labels found on the back of food packages, this version shows a bulb's brightness, appearance, life span, and estimated yearly cost. The Lighting Facts Label was created by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help consumers understand the product and buy the most efficient lightbulb.

Consumers' energy-efficient lighting options include:

  • Halogen incandescents: Use 25 percent less energy, last three times longer than regular incandescent bulbs
  • CFLs:Use 75 percent less energy, last up to 10 times longer
  • LEDs: Use between 75 percent and 80 percent less energy, last up to 25 times longer

Federal lightbulb standards have the potential to save consumers billions of dollars each year. For an average American house with about 40 light fixtures, changing just 15 bulbs can save about $50 a year per household, according to DOE.

A word of warning when purchasing new types of bulbs: You generally get what you pay for.

To learn about lighting options, visit For shopping tips visit

Floyd L. Keels
President and Chief Executive Officer

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