We just wrapped up a big year for change in residential lighting: The US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) phaseout of general-service incandescent lamps began in 2012, and new lighting technology options like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) became more commonplace in programs.

In the past couple years, we’ve frequently heard utilities voice plans to shift incentives from basic compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to specialty CFLs (like globes and reflectors). We’ve also expected increasing numbers of utilities and statewide efficiency organizations to offer incentives for LED bulbs at retail stores. To get a better sense of how residential lighting programs are changing, we reviewed the Energy Star Summary of Lighting Programs: September 2012 Update (PDF) as well as other industry resources.

Interestingly, our review of more than 70 residential lighting programs in the Energy Star Summary revealed that lighting programs still provide incentives for a wide variety of lighting product types—only a few programs focus incentives specifically on specialty bulbs and LEDs. And there’s still a lot of opportunity for programs to get savings from standard CFLs, given consistently low socket saturation across the US—in fact, D&R International reported a 23 percent CFL saturation rate for the US as a whole in its 2012 Residential Lighting Market Profile.

As lighting technologies continue to evolve, the next few years likely present the best opportunity to target remaining sockets through aggressive promotion of CFLs. California and the northeastern US recognize this opportunity and support continued promotion of basic CFLs over the next couple years. For example, in its Northeast Residential Lighting Strategy (PDF), published in 2012, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) encouraged efficient lighting programs to aggressively support CFLs through 2014, given the current 25 to 35 percent socket saturation in the region.

In early 2013, NEEP released an update to this lighting strategy. Although high-level recommendations remain the same (such as continuing support for Energy Star CFLs and increasing support for Energy Star LEDs), the new document highlights recent changes. For example:

  • Several evaluations and market research studies conducted since fall 2012 find that socket saturation is not growing as quickly as expected.
  • Estimated regional net savings potential for 2012 to 2022 has increased due to assumed increased promotion of standard CFLs.
  • In 2013, many of the program administrators (PAs) in the region support LEDs at retail, and several PAs plan to offer LEDs as a direct-install option in new construction, existing home, or low-income programs.
  • Proposed support for 2x halogens has been removed as a regional residential lighting program strategy for a number of reasons, including the lack of a commercially available product and concerns about customer confusion.
  • The New York Public Service Commission agreed to reconsider its order from late 2011 that directed the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to stop supporting standard CFLs. The more recent December 17 order enables NYSERDA to proceed with promoting CFLs through a revised “market lift” program model (in which incentives will be paid to retailers only when CFL sales exceed a historic baseline level).

It’s an exciting time to be involved in residential lighting programs, which continue to evolve quickly. For more insights, see our report Changes in Residential Lighting Programs: What Happened in 2012, and What We Can Expect in the Near Term (for members of the E Source Efficiency & Demand-Response Programs Service) and the Northeast Residential Lighting Strategy: 2012–2013 Update (PDF).


Very interesting. Here's a story I recently wrote about a small lighting company near Austin, Texas which is looking forward to major retrofitting projects with schools, governmental buildings and the like. http://impactnews.com/articles/texas-outdoor-lighting/

Contributing Authors

Director, Portfolio Management

Alexandra Behringer oversees management of the E Source portfolio of products and serves as the product owner for software development team projects...