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Understanding Title 24

Oct 05, 2006 | by Wendy Weinert

California enforces Title 24, the strictest energy code in the nation. Whether or not you live in California, reducing energy usage is a focus for everyone and, as professionals, understanding Title 24 and the energy efficiency standards can only add extra benefits for you and your business. Clients will save money, the environmental impact will be reduced and electrical systems can operate in a more stable state.

Title 24 guidelines and requirements specify the fixtures that should be used in almost all spaces for homes and buildings. Here is a summary of the code:
# Ballasts for lamps rated 13 watts or greater shall be electronic to meet standards.
# Virtually all pin-based fluorescent systems will qualify as high efficacy and meet the residential lighting standards.
# Medium-based incandescent sockets and low-voltage incandescent lighting (tungsten halogen, MR-11, MR-16, etc) will not meet high efficacy standards.
# Kitchen - At least 50% of installed lighting wattage must be fluorescent.
# Bathroom, garage, laundry, utility rooms - All hardwired lighting must be fluorescent or controlled by a manual-on occupant sensor (turns on manually, turns off automatically).
# Other rooms (hallways, stairs, dining rooms, etc.) - All hardwired lighting must be fluorescent or controlled by a manual-on occupant sensor or controlled by a dimmer.
# Outdoor lighting - All lights attached to buildings must be fluorescent or controlled by both a motion sensor and photo control.
# Recessed lighting must be air-tight.

As you can read, the code is driving the change from incandescent lighting to fluorescent lighting to increase efficiency. But why are fluorescent light bulbs more energy efficient? Simply put, a fluorescent bulb gives off less heat and uses the energy required to start the lamp in a more complete or efficient way.

Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs both use ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the naked eye. The ultraviolet light in an incandescent bulb is not converted to visible light and is therefore wasted energy. A fluorescent lamp uses this energy, putting the invisible light to work in creating visible light, and so is more efficient.

Efficiency is the key, and Title 24 requirements make efficiency imperative for good reason. According to the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Residential Compliance Manual, "…because energy efficiency reduces energy costs, increases reliability and availability of electricity, improves building occupant comfort, and reduces impacts to the environment, standards are important and necessary."

For professionals, there are several reasons to like Title 24 beyond simple energy savings. The new technologies it demands not only increases the need for professional design services, but it also pushes the production of better fluorescent fixtures with improved color rendering, as well increasing the selection of decorative and stylized designs.

Title 24 is impacting the lighting industry, driving the need for a wider range and variety of fluorescent fixtures and corresponding accessories for home use. You can incorporate fluorescent lighting fixtures throughout a home, in every room:
# Kitchen - use fluorescent designs for general lighting, under-cabinet fixtures and task lighting.
# Bathroom - add energy-efficient vanity lighting, general lighting and fluorescent fan/light combinations.
# Garages - incorporate bright, general fluorescent lighting to also save energy.
# Laundry & utility rooms - use fluorescent designs for general lighting and under-cabinet fixtures.
# Indoor switches - look at adding the "manual-on sensors" or special dimmers with incandescent fixtures to comply with Title 24 requirements.
# Outdoor lighting - use fluorescent fixtures, but also add motion sensors and photo controls to automatically switch off lights.

Our understanding of the Title 24 energy code is vital to our professional work and can have a profound, positive impact on the environment. Do your part - adopt this new standard for efficient lighting today.

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