It is with mixed emotions that I write this blog to bid adieu to one of the hallmarks of energy efficiency, residential lighting. While homes across the region and nation still have inefficient lighting technologies installed, the market transformation path for this measure is all but inevitable, and the need for NEEP’s continued thought leadership has ended.
When We First Met
I’ve managed the residential lighting program at NEEP for the past four years and I have to say, it was love at first sight. But long before me, NEEP has been a part of the residential lighting market for almost 20 years. We have written reports and blogs, hosted webinars and presented at conferences, and developed resources1 to help clarify and provide strategic vision and recommendations for stakeholders to maximize the efficiency in this market. When NEEP and residential lighting were on our honeymoon, we made new friends and worked together to create appropriate and impactful lighting specifications. Boy, those were good times, and now the ENERGY STAR Lamps and Luminaires 2.0 specifications are in full effect. We’re so happy to see that new, low-cost products are meeting those specifications and are available widely.
It’s Not You, It’s Me (Or Maybe It Is You)
Even though our relationship began with sparks, find that that now is the time to say goodbye. Based on our latest published projections (from State of the Market: A Residential Lighting Brief), the Northeast is on pace to reach our market transformation goal of 80-90 percent high quality efficient lighting by 2020 or 2021, 1-2 years earlier than what NEEP reported in 2014. With high quality LED A-lamps hitting prices in the $2-3 range without incentives,2 the LED has moved from a luxury product to a commodity. Furthermore, with federal appliance standards set to ban sales of inefficiency products (less than 45 lumens per watt) starting in 2020, those who have been slow to adopt efficient lighting will be faced with only efficient options the next time they set out to buy a lightbulb.
The virtuous cycle needed to transform a market from inefficient to highly efficient is spinning swiftly as we’ve demonstrated here. We’re in the late stages of market transformation, and the heavy lifting of research, analysis, and thought leadership has lightened. While the tools in our arsenal, including continued program incentives to ensure customers can afford the high quality, high efficiency option, are still important to fill remaining inefficient sockets, NEEP’s work here is done. It’s time for us to go our separate ways.
Let’s Stay Friends
It’s hard to say goodbye. When I look back at the past four years, there are some things I will certainly miss. The efficiency lighting community is a great group of committed individuals; I will miss hosting our annual in-person workshop and seeing everyone’s face for a lively debate. I will miss the depth of research and support for this product category; everyone is on board with residential lighting. I will also miss the depth of impact—every home has lightbulbs, with an average of 50 per US residence3. Making a difference in this product category means having an impact on the lives of millions.
But new opportunities for research, analysis, thought leadership and regional solutions have emerged that are too compelling to leave alone. At this point, the residential lighting market is on a course to achieve continued energy savings through the end of the decade.
For NEEP, we want to unearth new opportunities to help us reach our long-term goal: to reduce total carbon emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region by 80 percent by 2050. That means NEEP’s focus will shift to new frontiers such as strategic electrification, electric vehicles, high performance communities, and zero energy buildings. We will still be involved in lighting through our appliance standards and emerging commercial sector business models work, but the targeted residential lighting initiative has ended.
I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this project over the years, by providing your meeting space, funding, data, material review, and ideas. This is a success story, and we couldn’t have done it without you. I plan to continue engagement across other NEEP projects, so you haven’t heard the last of me yet!
But to the lightbulb, I invoke the words of the immortal Whitney Houston and say “I will always love you.”
But alas, adieu.