Saturday, September 24, 2005

Change in Lighting Requirements for Californians

Below are important excerpts from today's SF Chronicle Article "State flips the Switch on Old Bulbs..." to see the complete article, click here.

Effective Oct. 1, anyone in California applying for a building permit, for new and remodeled homes, will have to comply with hard-hitting standards set by the revisions of Title 24 -- the state's bible on energy efficiency.... (For remodels, the new regulations only apply to the portions of the house being remodeled.)

You will soon see in house plans the installation of more fluorescent lights, more motion sensors and more dimmers -- both inside and out -- whether you like them or not. ..

...Since 1978, the state [via Title 24] has mandated energy-efficiency standards on materials and installations for all residential and commercial construction in California -- from flooring to roofing and a lot in between...

...Title 24, is not a static thing. Whenever the California Energy Commission believes there is more advanced technology on the market to raise the energy-savings bar, revisions are issued....
It is Section 150(k) that has been causing concern for designers and others who soon will have to deal with clients to explain, maybe even defend, the changes in the residential lighting laws....

...there is going to be a whole lot more [fluorescent lighting] in home design in order to meet codes -- and the fluorescent fixtures we're talking about have to be hard-wired as such, not just a screw-into-the-socket type.

Each light in the bathroom, laundry room, garage and even on the front porch -- if the fixture is attached to the house -- must be fluorescent. Under certain conditions a motion sensor is an option, but not the typical sensor we know from work and school. The Title 24 kind of sensor is called, more correctly, an "occupancy" or "vacancy" sensor. It has to be turned on by hand; if not switched off by hand, it goes off automatically after 30 minutes -- unless, of course, it senses motion in the room.

When it comes to kitchen lighting, there's really a big fluorescent punch. It's now a 50-50 wattage arrangement, not the first-switch-only rule that allowed a building inspector to pass the lighting plan as long as the first switch was to a fluorescent bulb. When you start calculating -- watt for watt -- the amount of "high efficacy (fluorescent)" with the less-efficient (incandescent) light fixtures, the recipe for lighting up a kitchen will depend largely on fluorescent.
Design concepts we've known and loved -- those with halogen and track lighting -- probably won't do anymore.

As for the recessed ceiling fixtures that have been providing many a kitchen with overall ambient light, don't count on them unless they are the fluorescent variety -- and meet the new requirements for airtight insulation, too...

Initially, more money may have to be allocated to buy good products. Maybe it will even be necessary to hire a lighting designer on an hourly basis in order to guarantee a pleasing -- and code-complying -- lighting plan. It is all money well-spent, says sales consultant Margit Yasukawa of Bay Lighting & Design of San Francisco. She'll itemize the long-term savings in both energy and cash when installing fluorescent fixtures and other devices.
"Dimming a light by merely 10 percent, for instance, doubles the bulb life," she says, "and also cuts down on utility bills."

Learn more:
Title 24 Information:;;
Products: (Look for Title 24, Energy or Energy Star section);; (dimmers); (bulbs);;; (under-cabinet lights); (vacancy sensors).
Places to see "boxes" for light comparisons: Bay Lighting & Design, 1140 Folsom St., San Francisco; Lamps Plus, 2745 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo; the Pacific Energy Center, 851 Howard St., San Francisco.
Lighting designer Randall Whitehead offers information on the new Title 24 regulations, as well as ideas on his Web site:

Have more questions about San Francisco housing trends? Questions about buying or selling a home? Contact me for honest, experienced answers. Amy Blakeley, Realtor ablakeley at (415)296-2173 Direct

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