Live from California: Why Title 24 Lighting Laws are Stupid
California's Ill-conceived Title 24 "energy efficiency" law leaves us with a 2,100-square-foot apartment that has virtually no overhead lights.
Just to prove that I am an equal-protection technology hater since my move to California, I will now rail on something other than the crappy Time Warner Cable service here.
My new grudge is against California’s Title 24 “Energy Efficiency Standards” law, which mandates (among other things) that dimmers, occupancy sensors and/or energy-efficient lighting be installed in certain areas of the home (and commercial buildings).
We know well that many builders and contractors in California flout the law by complying with it only until the inspector has blessed the premises. Then the occupancy-sensing light switches are swapped out with traditional switches and headed to the next place that needs to pass inspection. Ditto with the “high-efficiency” lighting.
Now that I live here, the stupidity of the law becomes evident.
I rent a work/live loft, where the bottom floor is zoned for commercial, and the upstairs space includes an open kitchen/family room and another floor for the master suite.
I was first struck by the mandated occ sensors in the bathrooms and laundry area. Next to each “energy efficient” switch is a standard on/off switch that controls a second bank of lights right next to the “automated” ones. How dumb is that? Kind of defeats the purpose of occ-sensing lights, no?
The rule says that energy-efficient lighting must be present in these spaces, but it does not prohibit standard energy-sucking fixtures and switches adjacent to them. Dumb.
But the most debilitating effect of Title 24 is this: Because it mandates a certain percentage of energy-efficient lighting solutions in most spaces … our apartment chose to exclude overhead lights altogether, except for the few places where occupancy sensors or dimmers are required by law.
Our work space of about 800 square feet comes without can lights. There are accommodations for such lighting but the facility skirts the law by simply failing to include fixtures. There are some switched outlets as well so tenants can BYOL (bring your own lighting).
Likewise, there are no overhead lights provided in the large master suite, nor (worse!) the enormous open-space great room that has two-story-high ceilings. So we need to hire a pro to come in and screw in a light bulb or install a light fixture?
Oddly, the walk-in closet has standard switches, in a place where occupancy sensors might be the most helpful.
Why doesn’t California just leave lighting and other energy efficiencies to the consumers and manufacturers themselves? We’re heading that way all by ourselves.
Are you kidding me?!
No overhead lights are provided in the work space, the great room or the master suite above, so the apartment isn’t liable for Title 24 compliance.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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