2012 LED Light Bulb Discounts for Houston-Area Residents

LED light bulb subsidies in Houston

If you’re a residential electricity customer who lives in the Houston, Texas area, you have a few choices when it comes to the type of light bulb you can buy. You can get the standard incandescent bulb or you can shop for energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogen bulbs or ultra-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). People buy incandescent bulbs, CFLs and halogen bulbs all the time, but not as many folks invest in LEDs because of their cost.

However, thanks to a money-saving program by Houston–area electricity utility CenterPoint Energy that’s been carried over to 2012, you can actually save some real money off ENERGY STAR–certified LED light bulbs.

The program offers discounts on a variety of LEDs at all Houston–area Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Clubs and Costco stores. The great thing is that you won’t get some sort of rebate card or check in the mail. The discount is built in and applied right at the register. (Although the utility’s website still lists information for the 2011 program, we’ve confirmed with them that the 2012 program is, in fact, underway.)

What are the benefits of LEDs?

LEDs, compared with incandescent bulbs, use 80 percent less energy, last 15 times longer, and save $50 in electricity costs over the life of a single bulb. Installing just one LED can save you from $5 to $11 a year in electricity costs. Installing five LEDs can save you $250 over their lifetime.

Which LEDs are part of the discount program?

There are several distinct types of LEDs that qualify for discounts under CenterPoint’s program:

A-line LEDs look most like normal incandescent bulbs and are used to replace typical 40W to 100W incandescent bulbs in cases where the bulb is visible or has a downward-facing socket.

7W decorative LEDs are used for decorative lighting fixtures, such as chandeliers.

Globe LEDs are meant to replace 40W to 60W incandescent globe bulbs in cases where the bulb is visible, like above or around a bathroom vanity mirror, and in downward-facing sockets.

MR16 LEDs replace 20W halogen bulbs, which are typically used for task lighting in things like desk lamps.

PAR38 flood LEDs are used to replace 90W to 120W outdoor floodlights and work equally well with motion sensors or photo cells.

R30 flood LEDs are perfect for replacing 65W to 90W R lamps used in recessed cans.

R40 flood LEDs are for stronger 65 W to 120W R lamps in recessed cans and are great for providing bright lights in bathrooms.

How Do I Shop for LEDs?

Since LEDs use fewer watts than incandescent bulbs — which is why they’re so efficient in the first place — you can’t look to replace your 40W incandescent bulb with a 40W LED. In fact, they don’t even make 40W LEDs. Instead, incandescent bulbs and LEDs are compared by lumens, or the amount of light they produce, rather than watts, or the amount of electricity they use (more on watts vs. lumens here). Here’s a chart to help you compare watts between incandescent bulbs and LEDs:

Incandescent BulbLED Equivalent

40W

7–12W

60W

10–15W

75W

16–20W

90W

16W

100W

16W


Sources

CenterPoint Energy, “Advanced Lighting Program — Residential.”

CenterPoint Energy, “Make Your Mark with ENERGY STAR LEDs.”

Energy Star Announces New Elite Energy-Efficiency Certification

Wednesday August 10, 2011
Posted at 08:06

The EPA has announced a new designation for its Energy Star certification program

It’s getting easier for shoppers to find some of the most energy-efficient products on the market while providing manufacturers an incentive to innovate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was unveiling a new designation for its Energy Star certification, which provides labels for a wide variety of consumer products that meet government requirements for energy efficiency. The new Energy Star Most Efficient 2011 designation will go beyond the agency’s standard endorsement by recognizing Energy Star–certified products that are in the top 5 percent of their categories.

For 2011, the categories include clothes washers, refrigerators, televisions and home heating and cooling systems. The EPA will initiate a process later this year to consider additional categories to include for 2012.

The new designation will help U.S. consumers save money off monthly utility bills and cut pollution, EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. According to Jackson, the new designation will also provide manufacturers with an incentive to make products that operate with greater energy efficiency in order to compete for business among Americans who are “eager to make purchases that save them money on their utility bills and reduce the pollution in the air we breathe.” The Energy Star Most Efficient label will help shoppers find those purchases, Jackson added.

U.S. Department of Energy secretary Steven Chu reinforced the message that the new designation would provide manufacturers with an incentive to innovate. “The new Most Efficient designation is the next step towards encouraging new, more energy-efficient products to enter the market, so that consumers will have even more choices when it comes to high performance, high efficiency products that will save them energy and money,” Chu said in a statement.

Familiar Brands Top Energy Star’s Most Efficient List

Currently, clothes washers, televisions and home heating and cooling systems have been certified Energy Star Most Efficient 2011. Refrigerator certification will come later this year.

Among the brands that have received the first certifications under the Energy Star Most Efficient designation include products from Electrolux Major Appliances, Best Buy’s Insignia Brand, LG, Nordyne, Panasonic, Rheem, Samsung and Sears’ Kenmore.

Clothes washers with the new certification have an annual average operating cost between $80 and $103; televisions have an annual average operating cost between $3.13 and $13.63; and central air HVAC systems provide savings of between 27.78 percent and 46.94 percent over minimum federal standards.

According to Energy Star, last year U.S. consumers purchased Energy Star–certified products in more than 60 categories that resulted in $18 billion in savings off energy bills and the prevention of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

Sources

New Energy Star Initiative Recognizes Cutting-Edge Products with Highest Energy Efficiency,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release, July 14, 2011.

Energy Star Website, “Energy Star Most Efficient 2011.”

ENERGY STAR Updates Energy-Efficiency Requirements for Dishwashers and Furnaces

Thursday August 4, 2011
Posted at 08:11

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in July that it is updating its ENERGY STAR requirements for home dishwashers and furnaces beginning in 2012, a move that will help consumers who purchase new models save money off monthly utility bills.

After January 20, 2012, newly-certified standard-size and compact residential dishwashers that meet the updated ENERGY STAR requirements will be between 10 percent and 30 percent more energy efficient than conventional models and about 8 percent more energy efficient than models awarded the previous ENERGY STAR certification.

After February 1, 2012, newly-certified furnaces that meet the updated ENERGY STAR requirements will be categorized and labeled based on the particular climate zone in which they’ll be sold.

Furnaces that meet the new requirements in the southern half of the United States will be provided with a specific “U.S. South ENERGY STAR” label. These furnaces will be up to 12 percent more energy efficient than baseline models.

Furnaces that meet the new requirements in the northern half of the United States and Canada will be provided with the standard ENERGY STAR label. These furnaces will be up to 16 percent more energy efficient than baseline models.

According to a statement by the EPA, if every dishwasher in the United States met the new requirements, consumers would save $235 million a year off energy and water bills and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from 180,000 vehicles. Likewise, if every U.S. furnace met the new requirements, consumers would save $170,000 a year off energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 175,000 vehicles.

The EPA said that the new requirements for home dishwashers and furnaces are among 20 updates to product certification requirements scheduled to be completed this year.

Sources

EPA Announces New ENERGY STAR Requirements for Dishwashers and Furnaces,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release, July 19, 2011.