Signed into law on December 19, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 gradually halts the use of inefficient incandescent lamps and imposes improved energy efficiency standards on numerous products. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), headquartered in Washington, D.C., the new standards for light bulbs require them to use approximately 20% to 30% less energy by 2014. In addition, it requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to set standards for light bulbs to cut their energy use at least 35% by 2020.

The ACEEE says the initial targets could be achieved by compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and advanced incandescent lamps that combine halogen capsules with infrared-reflective coatings, while the 2020 standards will promote the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and other advanced lighting technologies. Calling the act “the most significant energy-efficiency legislation in three decades,” the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Washington, D.C., notes the lighting standards alone will cut electric bills by $13 billion per year, eliminating the need for 60 mid-sized power plants.

According to ACEEE, the energy act also sets new minimum efficiency standards for external power supplies, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, residential boilers, electric motors, and walk-in coolers and freezers. It directs the DOE to conduct new rulemakings on residential refrigerators and clothes washers, and allows the DOE to expedite rulemakings in cases where a broad consensus exists (a measure requested by DOE last year). Furthermore, it enables the DOE to establish a regional standard for heating products and two regional standards for cooling products, in addition to the national standard. These regional standards will permit the DOE to account for significant climate differences throughout the United States. The act also instructs the DOE to create a national media campaign to promote the benefits of increased energy efficiency.

With regard to federal buildings, the energy act establishes a goal to cut their energy use by 30% by 2015, requiring new and renovated federal buildings to drastically reduce their reliance on energy from fossil fuels. Compared with existing federal buildings, those built or renovated in 2010 must reduce their fossil-fuel dependency by 55%. By 2030, new or renovated federal buildings must eliminate their use of fossil fuel energy. The act also permanently authorizes the use of Energy Saving Performance Contracts, updates the authorization for DOE's Industrial Technologies Program, authorizes a Commercial Building Initiative, and contains new provisions to promote combined heat and power, recycled energy, and district energy systems.