Do CFLs Still Pass the Test?

May/June 2010
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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May 03, 2010
Energy Star cracks down on deficient CFLs.
Chris Granda (Image credit: Grasteu Associates) Glenn Reed (Image credit: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation) The combined efforts of lighting manufacturers, retailers, energy efficiency program sponsors, and the Energy Star for CFLs program have succeeded in moving CFLs from the margins to mainstream. Energy Star-labeled CFLs still promise some of the cheapest and easiest energy savings available. What do we know about CFL performance, and are manufacturer claims credible? On January 26, 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) sent out its latest delisting letter, removing 34 CFL models from Energy Star because independent, third-party tests showed that actual performance did not comply with program requirements. The results of four years of this performance testing on 121 models confirm that CFLs are big savers, but also raise concerns about the reliability of some manufacturers’ products. A Little Background Before the Energy Star for CFLs program debuted in 1999, energy efficiency program managers often set their own technical criteria for CFLs, and the criteria differed among programs. Energy Star provided a common, consistent standard for CFL performance, and by 2001 most U.S. energy efficiency programs were using the Energy Star specification as a minimum requirement. Non-Energy Star-qualified CFLs are available, but due to the market-driving effect of ...

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