US Learns: “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good”

The descent of the polar vortex over North America brought record low temperatures and freezing residents, increasing home heating demand.  To limit the impact of energy consumption on household bills, regardless of the weather, homeowners should take steps to increase energy efficiency of their houses by sealing leaks around openings, and replacing appliances with more efficient ones. A promising development is the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs with more efficient CFL and LED bulbs in the US under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Read more

Energy Efficiency Can Reduce Home Heating Costs

SurfKY News (7 January 2014):

With a blast of Arctic air covering the state, the Kentucky Public Service Commission says consumers can limit the impact on their home heating bills by taking steps to reduce energy consumption.

“As temperatures plummet, energy usage and home heating bills inevitably rise,” PSC Chairman David Armstrong said. “But a few simple steps can help limit the effect.”

Since weather – not price – is the dominant factor in determining energy usage, the best weapon consumers have to manage their energy costs is to take steps to reduce consumption, he said. Those measures can be as simple as turning down the thermostat a few degrees, Armstrong said.

“It’s also never too late to seal leaks around windows, door and other openings, to cover windows with plastic sheeting, and to take other low-cost steps to keep cold air out and warm air in,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong also emphasized that programs are available to help consumers who may be struggling to pay their heating bill. Heating assistance is available from local community action agencies and from utility companies, but funds are limited and sometimes run out during the heating season, he said.

“Do not allow a difficulty in paying a utility bill to become a crisis,” Armstrong said. “Now is the time to take the necessary steps if you think that you may need assistance in paying your heating bill this winter.”

The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky and has approximately 90 employees.

Information provided by Kentucky Public Service Commission




Top 10 Markets for Energy-Efficient Lighting

The incandescent bulb is starting to fade.

By Katherine Tweed in Greentech efficiency  (6 January 2014):

Between the snow storms and the recovery from New Year’s Eve, it was easy to miss the final phase-out of the inefficient lighting technology we’ve known for so long: the incandescent bulb.

Technically, incandescents weren’t banned in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Rather, the Act required that general-purpose light bulbs that produce 310 to 2600 lumens must be 30 percent more energy-efficient than current incandescent bulbs in 2012 to 2014. Other technologies, such as compact fluorescents and light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, can meet the requirements that incandescents cannot. Specialty bulbs are exempt.

The slow roll toward more efficient lighting already has most Americans examining their options. When the 100- and 75-watt incandescent was phased out in 2012, most Americans were looking at CFLs as alternatives. Now that the 60- and 40-watt are on the chopping block, the market has broadened as LED prices have fallen.

A market survey from Sylvania last year estimated that nearly one-third of homes have already kissed incandescents goodbye. In the past year alone, multiple sub-$10 LED replacements have come on the market.

Home Depot, the world’s largest seller of light bulbs, is tracking its sales and comparing the uptake across the U.S. The big-box store brought together census data and CFL and LED bulb sales from October 2012 to October 2013 for cities larger than 100,000 people.

Here are the top 10 markets for per-capita energy-efficient bulb consumption at Home Depots across the U.S. (in alphabetical order):




Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach




San Francisco


Washington, D.C.

What most of the top markets have in common is not necessarily a public enamored with more efficient lighting, but rather the presence of compelling rebates. Eight of the top ten markets offer some form of rebates for LEDs or CFLs, with four of the markets offering rebates for both, according to Home Depot. The two Florida markets were the only ones that had no rebates.

For some lighting companies, rebates are crucial to their ability to offer lower prices. Earlier this year, Philips partnered with Home Depot and utilities to bring the price of its 60-watt LED equivalent to $9.97 after utility rebate. In regions without a utility rebate available, the company’s 10.5-watt A19 will be offered for $10.97. And it’s not just the residential market that is benefiting from rebates — the commercial market is seeing a boom in utility rebates that is expected to help drive the market in coming years.

Although the most active markets are clustered on the West Coast and in the eastern half of the U.S., Home Depot reported that many smaller cities, such as McAllen, TX, Buffalo, NY and Fayetteville, AR also made the list.

To capture not just the big markets, but also to catch the interest of every American shopping for light bulbs, bulb manufacturers are taking different approaches beyond simply dropping prices. Philips recently unveiled a flattened “SlimStyle” LED bulb that is meant to rival the color offered by Cree’s soft white LED bulbs. Other retailers, such as Wal-Mart, are focusing on package design to make LEDs a more clear-cut choice for consumers.

More price reductions and marketing ploys are likely to hit the market in 2014 as retailers jockey for the top spot as the incandescent fades away.


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