Interesting Lighting Facts

Re-Printed from the September 2013 ALA Technology Newsletter

Residential Lighting By The Numbers 

Reliable data about the energy use of lighting products, together with numbers about the types and the quantity of products sold into the residential market, has become an increasingly important part of ALA activities in recent years. I pay particular attention to lighting energy data and the mix of light source products in various lighting applications.  Those numbers indicate market trends and information about the technology being used. Demographic numbers are a good predictor of market activity too. An example is the market for elderly-friendly lighting which is growing because every day more than 11,000 people reach 65 years of age in the U.S.

Starting in 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy began publishing detailed lighting inventory and energy consumption data by sector – residential, commercial, industrial and outdoor.   An update was published in 2012 based upon 2010 data, but last December, for the first time, residential lighting energy use was examined in detail.  

Report Results fromResidential Lighting End-Use Consumption Study: Estimation Framework and Initial Estimates

(Download at no charge, here: bh2)   
  • In U.S. residences, the average daily use per bulb is 1.6 hours.

  • The average bulb uses 47.7 watts. (That’s down substantially from the 67 watt average reported in the 2002 report.)

  • There are more than 67 bulbs in the average home considering all home types   (single family, multi-family, etc.); but single family homes average more than 85   bulbs/home. (The average reported in the 2002 report was 37 bulbs/home.)

  • Household lighting energy use varies substantially by region but averages 1,700 kWh/home per year. New York and California use the least averaging less than 1,500 kWh while states including Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and Missouri used the most averaging over 2,100 kWh per home annually.
  • The cost of energy used for residential lighting also varies by region, but total home lighting energy costs range from $200-300 per year.

  • Bulbs in bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms and kitchens consume the most lighting energy in the average home.

  • Dimmers control only 4% of the bulbs in the average home and almost 80% of those bulbs are in ceiling fixtures.

  • Incandescent bulbs (2010 data) remain the most widely used light source in homes (They are in more than 62% of the sockets); but the use of CFLs and LED bulbs has increased with CFLs at slightly more than 20% of the socketson average (also 2010 data).

Since the 2010 data above didn’t include the rapid growth in the use of LED bulbs during the past couple of years, I looked at another DOE report which uses the same database, but which analyzed the LED adoption rate over the 2010-2012 time period.   

Adoption of Light-Emitting Diodes in Common Lighting Applications.

(You can find that report at

  • What the 2010-2012 report shows is that the conversion of residential sockets from standard incandescent to halogen incandescent, CFL or LED bulbs has rapidly increased over this last two-year period.  

  • Some of that increase is due, of course, to the phase-out of standard incandescent bulbs; but lower prices for CFL and LED bulbs, better bulb performance, more product choice and market activities such as rebates and the entry of new manufacturers into the market have all played a role as well.  

  • Of the “A-line” bulb sockets, 62% of the 3.2 billion in homes contained standard incandescent bulbs in 2010. That number has now dropped to 55%.

  • But, LED bulbs, even though some 20 million have been installed over the last two years, still fill less than 1% of the total available sockets.  

  • The next two years, however, will likely see a dramatic change in those numbers because of the phase-out of the standard 40 watt and 60 watt bulbs beginning on January 1, 2014. Those two bulb types represent almost 60% of the standard bulb market.

 The big question is: What will consumers put into those sockets as the conventional bulbs are replaced? The answer to that question will make 2014-15 an unusual and interesting time in the lighting business.

What are you going to put in your sockets? That’s the question that you have to answer for yourself. Please visit us at and like us on Face Book. Be sure to download the UL app, LightSmart, for all kinds of interesting lighting information.