2012 Lighting Legislation: Seven Myths

As 2011 begins to come to an end, it is a good time for businesses to evaluate facility lighting and prepare for the U.S. Department of Energy’s energy efficiency legislation that will go into effect in 2012. The legislation will mandate that lighting manufacturers cease the production of non-efficient lighting and related products, which will change the way facilities consume energy and maintain lighting. In the following post, experts from Grainger debunk seven myths surrounding the lighting legislation and outline some tools and resources that can help businesses ease into the transition.

“There are plenty of myths out there that are causing some confusion and ambiguity surrounding the legislation, which could end up putting some businesses at a disadvantage,” said, John McDermott, Brand Strategy Manager, Sustainability, Grainger. “The lighting legislation is a unique opportunity for businesses to be more financially and operationally efficient, and facilities should embrace this shift and reap the benefits.”

Myth #1: The legislation won’t impact commercial businesses as much as it will impact consumers.

Fact: The legislation will impact both residential and commercial buildings… and soon! Effective January 1, 2012, standard 100W bulbs will require an increase of 30% in efficiency and can no longer be manufactured for sale in the U.S. The requirements will also apply to 75W (effective 2013), 60W, and 40W (effective 2014). For fluorescent tubes and PAR bulbs, lighting that is found throughout most commercial buildings, the legislation is slated to go into effect on July 14, 2012.

Myth #2: The only monetary return your business will get from making the switch to efficient lighting is the decrease in energy usage.

Fact: While energy and productivity savings from efficient bulbs are an obvious monetary benefit to making the switch, businesses can take advantage of utility rebates that may be available at the state and local level for additional savings. To find out what incentives are available in your area, visit the following link, which lists information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Myth #3: All lighting within a commercial facility will require costly retrofits to accommodate the shape and design of energy efficient lighting.

Fact: While a significant amount of lighting that is unique to a commercial building, such as fluorescent tubes and PAR bulbs, will need some kind of retrofit, not all types of lighting will require a full modification. Halogen and incandescent bulbs, for example, can simply be replaced by newer technology, such as CFL and LED bulbs, with no retrofit required.

Myth #4: Making the switch to energy efficient LED lighting is very expensive and will put a financial strain on your business.

Fact: While LED lighting is more costly than its inefficient counterparts at the onset of installation, the return over time can be significant. Not only can your business experience the cost savings that come with reducing energy consumption, productivity levels may also increase as you will no longer have to address lighting maintenance as frequently due to the longer lifespan of LED replacement bulbs. No-cost resources, such as savings calculators and estimators, are available to help you better understand the savings potential for your business.

Myth #5: There is no rush to accommodate the legislation because you can stock up on your current inefficient lighting and wait until you run out — waiting will not add additional costs to your project.

Fact: Like any government incentive programs, the utility rebates that are currently available will not be available indefinitely. To help businesses prepare for the change, many lighting manufacturers and suppliers will also be running promotions and other incentives to purchase energy efficient lighting, which, similar to government incentives, may not be available once consumers and businesses adapt more widely to the legislation and efficient lighting becomes standard. When updating the lighting in your facility, consider taking an approach that will align with your budget and comfort level. For example, start by identifying and changing out those bulbs that do not require a retrofit.

Myth #6: When evaluating lighting within your facility and determining the best way to approach the process, you are on your own.

Fact: While some facilities may have an in-house expert who is familiar with upgrading to energy efficient lighting, many businesses do not know where to start. There are third parties that specialize in retrofitting and can identify the magnitude of potential savings, layout a plan for the project and even execute the installation and apply for the appropriate utility rebates. An example of such a partner is Alliance Energy Solutions, which assists facilities in adapting to the lighting legislation and helps businesses maximize their energy savings.

Myth # 7: The best way to dispose of inefficient, fluorescent lighting is just to toss it in the trash.

Fact: Because florescent bulbs contain mercury, they may pose an environmental hazard when disposed of improperly. The best way to dispose of inefficient lighting is through recycling and if there are no recycling centers or drop-off locations in your local area, you can purchase pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers to help ensure proper disposal.


  1. I have been using CFL’s for many years. The reason however has been the enhanced quality of the light, not the savings. In fact I would estimate that it has cost more to operate my CFL’s than any incandescent bulb in my home. Why? Because the incandescent bulbs last far longer and cost only 1/10 as much! Oh yeah, the labels on the CFL bulbs may say they last 10,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for incandescent, but that is more of a bad joke than reality. I replace my CFL’s regularly, I rarely change my incandescents. The life of a CFL is determined by the number of times it is turned on & off, not by the run time. If you have a family of 3 or 4 persons using CFLs in a kitchen, a bath or a family room where the lights are turned on and off many times a day it is a losing proposition to light with the CFLs. If indeed you have an application where you run your CFL lights constantly (or rarely use them), then you have a chance of getting 10,000 hours run time. And, even then the run time will depend on luck because the 10,000 hour rating is based on laboratory conditions and average hours, meaning only half of them would live that long in a cool environment with ideal line voltage. I have seven CFL’s in my home and I throw one away every year, each time I reminding myself that they costs 14$ each. All of the other lights in my home (about 35 others) use the incandescent bulbs and I change about one or two a year – but they only cost about a dollar each at the very most. Perhaps the country needs to save energy, for that reason the new lighting standard that is forcing the use of the CFL’s makes sense. But don’t for one second think you will be saving money in the long run. That part is a crock. The manufacturers paid millions to lobby our brilliant Congressional leaders and they bought it hook line and sinker. It is all for them and it is all justified by the righteous claim of cost savings and energy efficiency. The “Job Creators” are making millions (make that Billions), and the flow of the new moneys is from you to them!

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