Responsible Purchasing Network

Lighting: Handy Facts

This section includes a concise list of statistics that highlight the key facts on lighting.





  • Lighting accounts for 22% of the electricity used in commercial buildings, or more than 7% of all U.S. energy consumption (NEMA, 2003; ENERGY STAR, n.d.)

  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with bare compact fluorescents yields about a 66 energy savings for each bulb changed (ENERGY STAR, b)

  • Washington, DC estimated it could save over 11,000,000 KWh, $700,000 annually, and $1.5 million over 5 years by converting to fluorescent lighting.

  • Over five years, a power plant using an average U.S. fuel mix will emit approximately 5.4 mg of mercury to generate electricity to run an incandescent light bulb, compared to 1.7 mg to run an equivalent CFL (DOE, c).

  • It would take 100 large power plants to generate electricity required for today’s lighting needs and the cost of this electricity is about $55 billion (NEMA, 2003)

  • 70.8% of the mercury-lamps used by business are not being recycled (ALMR, 2003)

  • On average, each CFL prevents 450 pounds of emissions from a lower plant over its lifetime

  • The EU, State of California and the San Francisco limit mercury in CFLs to five milligrams

  • Canada’s EcoLogo program set a 3 milligram cap on the mercury content of lamps

  • LED exit signs use 80–95 percent less energy than incandescents, last 10–20 times longer and pay back in less than 3 years (ASE, 2005)

  • Compared to CFLs, LED replacement lamps for exit signs last 5-10 times longer, use about 1/10th the energy and are mercury-free

 ENERGY STAR CFLs do the following:

  • Use at least 2/3 less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last to 10-20 times longer

  • Save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime

  • Generate 70 percent less heat, so are safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with cooling

  • Turn on instantly, produce no sound, and fall within a warm color range or are otherwise labeled as providing cooler color tones

  • Are available in different sizes and shapes to fit in almost any fixture, for indoors and outdoors (ENERGY STAR, b)


Creative Commons License This work by the Responsible Purchasing Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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