September 15, 1999


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BERKELEY, CA — Lighting systems researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) will work together under a cooperative research and development agreement to demonstrate the energy saving potential of compact fluorescent lamp-based torchieres that were developed at Berkeley Lab as a safer alternative to the halogen torchiere.

"This research will examine consumer satisfaction with the technology and we will use the results as a basis for developing design guidelines for the next generation of compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) torchieres," says Michael Siminovitch of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD). "We plan to make the results public and distribute them to the utility and lighting manufacturing industries."

SMUD will develop and design a CFL torchiere distribution program that will be offered to a number of its residential household customers. Participants in the program will be given a range of commercially available CFL torchieres from several manufacturers. Berkeley Lab will work with SMUD engineers to set up a non-invasive system to monitor the torchieres' use at each participating home, and to design the measurement protocols. The system will measure the operational hours, time of use, and power levels of the torchieres.

In addition to the quantitative data, team members at SMUD will develop a customer survey to measure user satisfaction. SMUD will handle all of the interactions with its customers, including the logistics of distributing torchieres. The final technical reports from these studies will be publicly available.

"SMUD has been promoting compact fluorescent technology for several years, and we're excited to be working with the expert team from Berkeley Lab," says Mike Weedall, Manager of Energy Services at SMUD. "The project could lead to major improvements to products that have already been popular with SMUD customers. The research we're doing in Sacramento could help increase the acceptance of this new technology by consumers all over the country."

Says Siminovitch, "SMUD has been a leader in the energy efficiency arena, and with this cooperative torchiere program, it continues to lead the industry in advancing new energy efficient technologies. SMUD's efforts and insights will help establish the CFL torchiere as one the largest energy saving opportunities in lighting to date."

Compact fluorescent torchieres (floor lamps) were developed by a team headed by Siminovitch as an alternative to energy-guzzling, high-wattage halogen torchieres. In addition to being inefficient, halogen torchieres are also fire hazards. They have been identified as the cause of nearly two hundred residential fires and about a dozen deaths by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Berkeley Lab team worked with manufacturers of torchieres to develop and test a number of market-ready compact fluorescent torchiere designs.  Siminovitch and Erik Page of Berkeley Lab won a Best of What's New Award from Popular Science in 1997 for the technology, which was a Grand Winner in that competition's Home category.

The CFL torchiere produces 25 per cent more light than 300-watt halogen torchieres, while using one-fifth the energy and operating hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit cooler. The 40 million halogen torchieres in the United States consume 20 billion kilowatt-hours annually, five times the energy generated by wind turbines and photovoltaics.

"We've been active in helping the utility and manufacturing industries accelerate the market acceptance of energy-saving torchieres," says Siminovitch. "Through this study and our partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, we'll continue this process by developing a database of information about actual energy savings from CFL torchieres, and identifying what users like and don't like about CFL torchieres."

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified research and is managed by the University of California.

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