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New Energy Law Creates Challenges for Homeowners with Dimmers and Lighting Control Systems

Consumers need to choose replacement light bulbs carefully for compatibility with existing dimmers and control systems

Warrenton, VA — January 28, 2008 — With the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 becoming law late last December, the United States has joined Canada, Europe and Australia in developing new lighting efficiency standards targeting today’s inefficient version of the incandescent light bulb. As popular 40-100W general-service bulbs begin to be eliminated in 2012, consumers will be challenged to find replacements that provide good lighting, energy savings and desired performance with dimmers and control systems, according to the Home Lighting Control Alliance (HLCA), an industry association formed to educate the public about advanced lighting controls in the home.

The law’s performance standards appear to favor compact fluorescent bulbs, often faulted for their cold, unflattering color, slow starting nature and mercury content. Most of today’s compact fluorescents cannot be dimmed, and even the special versions that are dimmable tend to exhibit flicker and produce a “cooler” color appearance while dimming.

Under the new law, however, consumers will retain choice over their lighting, with several options to retain incandescent lighting. Philips, for instance, currently offers an incandescent/halogen bulb, the Philips Halogena Energy Saver, that meets the standards. Available in 40W and 70W versions designed to replace 60W and 90+W incandescents respectively, these bulbs provide about 30% energy savings and a service life of 3,000 hours. Meanwhile, bulb manufacturers such as General Electric are working towards new high-efficiency incandescent bulbs that will comply with the new standards. And dimmable LED lights remain a possibility: The energy law, in fact, created a $10 million prize for an LED light bulb that can replace today’s 60W incandescents.

By carefully choosing light bulb replacements, consumers can continue enjoying the benefits of controls, from single wall-box dimmers up to whole house lighting control systems, without negative issues–not only as an amenity providing convenience, lifestyle enhancement and the warm lighting feel that consumers expect at home, but also as a means of achieving energy savings. They will also be able to continue using vacancy sensors to save energy in bathrooms, bedrooms, walk-in closets and other spaces. According to the California Energy Commission, dimming can save an average 10% of lighting energy consumption in the home, while vacancy sensors can save an average 20%.

“Consumers with dimmers and dimming systems should look to today’s energy law-compliant incandescent/halogen bulbs and potential future high-efficiency incandescent bulbs for replacement as the new 2007 Energy Act’s requirements begin to go into effect starting in 2012,” says Gary Meshberg of Lightolier Controls and chairman of the HLCA. “Those who wish to purchase compact fluorescent bulbs should be aware they will need special dimmable versions if they want the bulbs to work with dimmers and dimming systems, and even this may not ensure the performance or look and feel they expect.”

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Fact Facts about the New Energy Law and Home Lighting Control

Energy Independence and Security Act will virtually eliminate today’s general-service incandescent bulbs in 2012-2014

Consumers can adopt compact fluorescent bulbs, exempted incandescent bulbs, recently introduced energy-saving incandescent/halogen bulbs, or new bulbs currently still in development by major lighting companies

Consumers choosing compact fluorescent but wanting the convenience and lifestyle of dimming must use special dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs labeled as compatible with dimmers

Consumers unsatisfied with compact fluorescent dimming can use energy-saving incandescent/halogen bulbs with their dimming controls to gain the dimming performance they expect while still saving energy

Dimming saves an average 10% lighting energy costs; 10% dimming doubles incandescent and halogen bulb life

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About the Home Lighting Control Alliance (HLCA)

The Home Lighting Control Alliance is a self-funded, member-driven consortium of leading lighting control manufacturers, systems integrators and industry support organizations. Its sole purpose is to promote the awareness, value and benefits of lighting control in residential applications.

Current partners in the Home Lighting Control Alliance include: AHA Design, CEA, CentraLite Systems, Control4, Crestron, Echelon, EH Publishing, ETC, FulTech Solutions, HAI, Integrated Concepts, iLuxe innovation, Karen Proctor Electric, Leviton, Lightolier Controls, LiteTouch, Low Voltage Systems, Pass & Seymour, RL Johnson Construction, Savant Systems, S&S Electric, Somfy Systems, Square D, SST, Vantage Controls, Watt Stopper and Worthington Distribution.

Further information about lighting control and the Home Lighting Control Alliance can be readily obtained at www.homelightingcontrol.org

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