Tubes Must Be Tougher in 2018 to Trim Bills, Save Bucks (AC & Ice Makers, Too)

Schools, hospitals and offices across the country will start saving money on their utility bills as a result of the new energy efficiency standards for fluorescent tube lights going into effect today. With more than 2 billion of these bulbs in use nationwide, the total savings will add up to $2 billion to $5.5 billion over the next 30 years.

Fluorescent tube lights might not be anyone’s personal favorite, but these workhorse bulbs are often on for more than 12 hours a day, and each commercial building in the country has about 300 of them on average.

As of Friday (January 26), new fluorescent tube lights will be required to be 23% more efficient than those sold before 2012, and 4% more efficient than bulbs sold over the past five years. The incremental savings may seem small, but the savings across the board could reach $5.5 billion once all the bulbs in use are replaced with the more efficient version. The new bulbs pop right in to old fixtures and do everything the old bulbs do – they just cost less to operate.

The fluorescent tube lighting standards are one of five efficiency updates for appliances and equipment that take effect in 2018, which means that less efficient models manufactured after a certain date can no longer be sold in the US. This is the result of standards that were developed at the DOE over the past few years as part of the DOE’s hugely effective energy efficiency standards program. Over the past 30 years, this program has quietly saved billions of dollars in electricity costs, and is on track to save $2 trillion by 2030.


Other Standards Taking Effect in 2018

Clothes washers in apartment buildings, laundromats and homes already got an efficiency boost this year, effective January 1. Clothes washer standards have already been saving consumers money for more than 30 years, and there are still savings to be had. Since 1987, when Congress established the first national standards for residential clothes washers, clothes washer energy use has decreased substantially: an average new washer in 2014 used 75 percent less energy than one in 1987.

The standards that took effect this year are part two of a set of standards negotiated back in 2010, and represent a significant improvement for top-loading washers. Models sold this year will use 18% less energy and 23% less water than those sold since the first tier went into effect in 2015.

The first stage of new standards for rooftop air conditioners, which heat or cool more than half of the commercial floor space in the US, also became effective on January 1, 2018 — kicking off the savings for the DOE’s most powerful efficiency standard yet. Over the next 30 years, this two-part standard will save as much energy as all the coal burned for electricity nationwide, and $50 billion in heating and cooling costs for businesses.

Commercial ice makers sold this year for use in hotels, restaurants, and health care facilities will use 10% to 25% less energy. This upgrade will save US businesses $942 million in energy costs over the next 30 years, with a typical owner saving between $200 to $800 over the life of the ice maker.

This is an excerpt of an article originally published by NRDC. Read the entire article here. Published with permission from NRDC.

Photo credit: Tracy Qui, Flickr Creative Commons

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