The LUMEN Coalition Explained
January 4, 2012 - 1:28pm
The LUMEN Coalition’s Monique O’Grady talks about educating your customers on energy-efficient lighting.
Monique O'Grady

Residential Lighting: Tell us about the LUMEN Coalition.

Monique O’Grady: It was formed late in 2010 when a coalition of unlikely partners came together — manufacturers, consumer groups, utilities, NGOs, and even members of the federal government, including the Dept. of Energy, EPA, FTC, and some state locals. We have more than 40 different organizations with the understanding that there was an important transition to energy-efficient lighting starting in January.

RL: What is your goal?

MO: LUMEN stands for Lighting Understanding for a More Efficient Nation. From now on, consumers are going to be choosing light bulbs based on lumens, which is about brightness as opposed to wattage. In the past, people have equated wattage to more light. Nowadays, light bulbs use less energy, so we need to talk about the bulb’s brightness and lumen is the
term at the fore.

RL: How will you let people know?

MO: We’ve created a website for consumers, It has four simple sections — Energy-Saving Choices, Choosing a Bulb, Lumens vs. Watts and, lastly, a little about the coalition. We also have FAQs, some of which are on misunderstood elements about the transition to energy-efficient lighting, and some videos.

RL: Are lighting retailers members?

MO: IKEA was a founding member. They’re on the front line of selling energy-efficient light bulbs in their stores, and we’d like more retailers to join the LUMEN Coalition.

RL: What are the top challenges you’re working on?

MO: We’d like consumers to under-stand that there are many choices with energy-efficient lighting. Many have tried energy-efficient bulbs in the past and are happy with them. But some have gotten mixed results. We’d suggest to those who have had an unhappy experience to try them again. They’ve gotten better. More hues are available. There are more shapes and sizes. They come covered. They come in three-way. They are dimmable. 

Also, incandescent bulbs are not being banned. In fact, people might want to look at halogen incandescent bulbs, which happen to be about 27 percent more efficient than the old-style incandescent bulbs. If people change at least 15 bulbs to a mixture of halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED bulbs, they could save $50 to $100 a year.

RL: What else have you done?

MO: In October, we went to the home of Rose DiNapoli, an interior designer in Arlington, VA, and did a makeover of seven different rooms. The makeover went beyond the new standards that [were scheduled for] this January. We changed 34 bulbs. Some were covered by the new standards; some weren’t. We have candelabra light bulbs, recessed lighting and three-way bulbs. It was a practical application of the energy-efficient choices available. We brought in a lighting expert, Joe Rey-Barreau, who gave tours and he said he had never seen so many different applications in one residential setting.

RL: What do you want lighting showrooms to tell their customers?

MO: Tell them to check out the web-site Suggest that, when looking for energy-efficient lighting, to take their time. Learn what’s available. Buy a bulb. See if they like it. Once they do, encourage them try the new bulbs in a few different fixtures.

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