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Light Bulbs

Last Updated: 10/01/19 Click to see brand name products that meet these requirementsopens in new window
Light Bulbs

A man-made source of optical radiation.

Life Cycle Cost Savings

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) aims to quantify the financial impact of a product over its entire life cycle to assist consumers in making decisions that will save them money over the long term.

For most applications, energy-efficient light bulbs have the lowest life-cycle cost. For example, according to EPA estimates, installing 100 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs would save the typical user $4,867 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs, while avoiding 10,455 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs can save even more: installing 100 LED bulbs would save the typical user $11,370 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs, while avoiding 10,286 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

GSA's Proving Ground evaluated an LED replacement lamp that uses the same four-pin socket and electronic ballast as an incumbent CFL. Results showed energy savings between 40-50%, matching light levels and quality and payback under 3 years. GPG recommends deploying LED downlight lighting in place of CFLs broadly where advanced lighting controls are not desired or useful. GPG's report provides a table of LED replacement options for CFL downlights.

An efficient product is cost effective when the energy costs saved over the life of the product exceed the additional upfront cost (if any) of the more efficient model. Energy Star considers both upfront costs and lifetime energy cost savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume that Energy Star-qualified products are life-cycle cost effective.

To calculate life cycle cost savings, explore these tools:

  • On its Purchasing & Procurement page, Energy Star offers MS-Excel-based calculators to estimate how much money and energy you can save purchasing ENERGY STAR light bulbs.
  • For life cycling costing on specific brand-name products, visit SFTool Product Search by clicking the green box at the top of this page. Once you have created an account, add a product to a project and open the project. The tool displays energy cost savings, adjusting for local utility rates, operating conditions, and the purchase price.
  • NREL’s Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator can help estimate the cost of electricity as an input for your lifecycle cost calculations, accounting for both cost escalation and discount rates.
Guiding Principles
Contributes to meeting The Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings
Additional Guidance

The effective date for the Version 2.1 ENERGY STAR specification for lamps (light bulbs) is October 1, 2017. The scope of this specification is limited to lamps with (1) integrated ballasts and drivers intended to be connected to the electric power grid with the following ANSI standard base types: E26, E26d, E17, E11, G4, GU10, GU5.3, and GX5.3; and (2) rated nominal operation voltages of 120, 240, or 277 VAC, or 12 or 24 VAC or VDC.

Note that the list of excluded lamps (light bulbs) is extensive:

  1. Lamps, other than MR types, that operate only on an external (i.e. not integral to the lamp) ballast, driver or transformer, e.g., pin-based fluorescent lamps (linear and compact) or their solid-state replacements.
  2. LED lamps intended to replace linear fluorescent lamps.
  3. LED lamps intended to replace pin-based compact fluorescent lamps.
  4. LED lamps intended to replace high-intensity discharge lamps.
  5. Lamps powered by an internal power source, e.g., solar-powered cell.
  6. Lamps incorporating power-consuming features in the on or off state which are not related to control of illumination (e.g., audio functions, air fresheners, or cameras).
  7. Lamp technologies lacking applicable industry standardized methods of measurement.
  8. Lamps with bases not covered in ANSI standards.
  9. Zhaga compliant LED light engines.
  10. LED lamps that could be mistaken for general purpose A-lamp replacements (e.g., a G18.5 or G19 lamp), that do not meet the omnidirectional luminous intensity distribution requirements. This would include decorative lamps that fall within the minimum and maximum diameter of common A-shape lamps (between 41mm and 78mm) with the exception of G16.5 and G25 lamps.
Potential LEED Contributions

This product may contribute* toward points in multiple LEED v4 rating systems, including areas required for LEED v4 building certification. Primarily, the credits will apply in the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) categories. This includes the specialty areas of: New Construction and Major Renovation, Existing Buildings, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Data Centers, Warehouse and Distribution Centers, Hospitality, and Healthcare. Specific credits are:

  • Energy & Atmosphere - Optimize Energy Performance
  • Indoor Environmental Quality - Interior Lighting

* It is important to note that no products, individually or collectively, can guarantee a specific number of points for LEED Category credit. Each credit will need to be matched to the product by a certified professional.